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Lamy Laurent, Cecconi Baptiste, Prangé Renée, Zarka Philippe, Nichols Jonathan D., Clarke John T.

An auroral oval at the footprint of Saturn's kilometric radio sources, colocated with the UV aurorae

Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 2009, vol. 114, pp. 10212

Référence DOI : 10.1029/2009JA014401
Référence ADS : 2009JGRA..11410212L

Résumé :

Similarly to other magnetized planets, Saturn displays auroral emissions generated by accelerated electrons gyrating around high-latitude magnetic field lines. They mainly divide in ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) aurorae, excited by electron collisions with the upper atmosphere, and Saturn's kilometric radiation (SKR), radiated from higher altitudes by electron-wave resonance. Whereas spatially resolved UV and IR images of atmospheric aurorae reveal a continuous auroral oval around each pole, the SKR source locus was only indirectly constrained by the Voyager radio experiment to a limited local time (LT) range on the morningside, leading to interpretation of the SKR modulation as a fixed flashing light. Here, we present resolved SKR maps derived from the Cassini Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) experiment using goniopolarimetric techniques. We observe radio sources all around the planet, organized along a high-latitude continuous auroral oval. Observations of the Hubble Space Telescope obtained in January 2004 and January 2007 have been compared to simultaneous and averaged Cassini-RPWS measurements, revealing that SKR and UV auroral ovals are very similar, both significantly enhanced on the dawnside. These results imply that the SKR and atmospheric aurorae are triggered by the same populations of energetic electron beams, requiring a unified model of particle acceleration and precipitation on Saturn.

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