Jupiter's volcanic moon Io controls its magnetospheric auroral activity

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 29, 2013 05:00 hrs

Volcanic activity on Jupiter's moon Io affects auroral activity in the planet' magnetosphere, researchers have revealed.

Io spews out volcanic gas, which reaches Jupiter's atmosphere and becomes ionized, forming what is known as the Io plasma torus.

This plasma torus can interact with Jupiter's magnetosphere, possibly affecting auroral activity there.

To help determine whether Io's volcanic activity affects Jupiter's magnetosphere, M. Yoneda, F. Tsuchiya et al. analyzed ground-based observations of Jupiter's sodium nebula, which provides an indication of Io's volcanic activity and plasma content in the Io plasma torus, along with satellite-based measurements of radio emission called HOM emission, which is a sign of Jupiter's auroral activity.

They observe that Jupiter's sodium nebula was enhanced in late May through early June 2007, indicating that Io's volcanic activity increased during that period.

The researchers observe that shortly after this enhancement began, Jupiter's HOM emission intensity decreased.

As a result, the researchers concluded that increased volcanic activity on Io lessens auroral activity in Jupiter's magnetosphere.

The study was published in the Geophysical Research Letters. (ANI)

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