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The Io UV footprint: Location, inter-spot distances and tail vertical extent

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  • Planetary Sciences: Solar System Objects: Jupiter
  • Planetary Sciences: Solar System Objects: Io
  • Planetary Sciences: Fluid Planets: Aurorae
  • Planetary Sciences: Fluid Planets: Interactions With Particles And Fields
  • Planetary Sciences: Fluid Planets: Magnetospheres (2756)
  • Physical
  • Chemical
  • Mathematical & Earth Sciences :: Space Science
  • Astronomy & Astrophysics [G05]
  • Physique
  • Chimie
  • Mathématiques & Sciences De La Terre :: Aérospatiale
  • Astronomie & Astrophysique [G05]
  • Medicine
  • Physics


The Io footprint (IFP) consists of one or several spots observed in both jovian hemispheres and is related to the electromagnetic interaction between Io and the magnetosphere. These spots are followed by an auroral curtain, called the tail, extending more than 90° longitude in the direction of planetary rotation. We use recent Hubble Space Telescope images of Jupiter to analyze the location of the footprint spots and tail as a function of Io's location in the jovian magnetic field. We present here a new IFP reference contour---the locus of all possible IFP positions---with an unprecedented accuracy, especially in previously poorly covered sectors. We also demonstrate that the lead angle - the longitudinal shift between Io and the actual IFP position - is not a reliable quantity for validation of the interaction models. Instead, the evolution of the inter-spot distances appears to be a better diagnosis of the Io-Jupiter interaction. Moreover, we present observations of the tail vertical profiles as seen above the limb. The emission peak altitude is ~900 km and remains relatively constant with the distance from the main spot. The altitudinal extent of the vertical emission profiles is not compatible with precipitation of a mono-energetic electron population. The best fit is obtained for a kappa distribution with a characteristic energy of ~70 eV and a spectral index of 2.3. The broadness of the inferred electron energy spectrum gives insight into the physics of the electron acceleration mechanism at play above the IFP tail.

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