Energetic Charged Particles in the Magnetosphere of Neptune

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Science  15 Dec 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4936, pp. 1489-1494
DOI: 10.1126/science.246.4936.1489


The Voyager 2 cosmic ray system (CRS) measured significant fluxes of energetic [≥1 megaelectron volt (MeV)] trapped electrons and protons in the magnetosphere of Neptune. The intensities are maximum near a magnetic L shell of 7, decreasing closer to the planet because of absorption by satellites and rings. In the region of the inner satellites of Neptune, the radiation belts have a complicated structure, which provides some constraints on the magnetic field geometry of the inner magnetosphere. Electron phase-space densities have a positive radial gradient, indicating that they diffuse inward from a source in the outer magnetosphere. Electron spectra from 1 to 5 MeV are generally well represented by power laws with indices near 6, which harden in the region of peak flux to power law indices of 4 to 5. Protons have significantly lower fluxes than electrons throughout the magnetosphere, with large anisotropies due to radial intensity gradients. The radiation belts resemble those of Uranus to the extent allowed by the different locations of the satellites, which limit the flux at each planet.

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