Equatorial X-ray Emissions: Implications for Jupiter's High Exospheric Temperatures

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Science  04 Apr 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5309, pp. 104-108
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5309.104

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Observations with the High Resolution Imager on the Rüntgensatellit reveal x-ray emissions from Jupiter's equatorial latitudes. The observed emissions probably result from the precipitation of energetic (>300 kiloelectron volts per atomic mass unit) sulfur and oxygen ions out of Jupiter's inner radiation belt. Model calculations of the energy deposition by such heavy ion precipitation and of the resulting atmospheric heating rates indicate that this energy source can contribute to the high exospheric temperatures (>800 kelvin at 0.01 microbar) measured by the Galileo probe's Atmospheric Structure Instrument. Low-latitude energetic particle precipitation must therefore be considered, in addition to other proposed mechanisms such as gravity waves and soft electron precipitation, as an important source of heat for Jupiter's thermosphere.

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