Hot electron component in the Io plasma torus confirmed through EUV spectral analysis

K. Yoshioka, I. Yoshikawa, F. Tsuchiya, M. Kagitani, G. Murakami

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16 Citations (Scopus)


The Io plasma torus is composed mainly of sulfur and oxygen ions and their compounds, together with a background of electrons. In addition to those basic components, several in situ observations have shown that a small percentage of the electrons there have been excited to be as much as 100 times hotter than the background electrons. They have a significant impact on the energy balance in the Jovian inner magnetosphere. However, their generation process has not yet been clarified. One difficulty is that the available data about the hot electrons all come from in situ observations which cannot explore the temporal and spatial distributions explicitly. Therefore, remote sensing which can take a direct picture of the plasma dynamics is necessary in order to clarify the hot electron problem. In this study, a plasma diagnosis method was used for the Io plasma torus EUV spectra taken from the Cassini spacecraft. Agreement with previous observations confirmed the background electron temperature and ion compositions as determined by our model. In addition, the available data are matched even better when the model is run with a hot electron component. This consistent confirmation by remote sensing is a first. Because of the limited temporal resolution and observational coverage, the results could not be used to explain the generation process of the hot electrons. However, we expect that this method will be useful in studying the hot electron generation process when data from future missions with better temporal resolution and more complete coverage become available.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA09204
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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