Long-term modulations of Saturn's auroral radio emissions by the solar wind and seasonal variations controlled by the solar ultraviolet flux

T. Kimura, L. Lamy, C. Tao, S. V. Badman, S. Kasahara, B. Cecconi, P. Zarka, A. Morioka, Y. Miyoshi, D. Maruno, Y. Kasaba, M. Fujimoto

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Saturn's auroral activities have been suggested to be controlled by the seasonal variations of the polar ionospheric conductivities and atmospheric conditions associated with the solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) flux. However, they have not yet been explained self-consistently by only the seasonal solar EUV effects. This study investigates the long-term variations of Saturnian Kilometric Radiation (SKR) as a proxy of the auroral activities, which were observed by Cassini's Radio and Plasma Wave Science experiment mostly during the southern summer (DOY (day of year) 001 2004 to DOY 193 2010). We deduced the height distribution of the SKR source region in the Northern (winter) and Southern (summer) Hemispheres from the remote sensing of SKR spectra. The peak spectral density of the southern (summer) SKR was found to be up to 100 times greater than that of the northern (winter) SKR, and the altitude of the peak flux was similar (∼ 0.8 Rs) in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The spectral densities in both hemispheres became comparable with each other around equinox in August 2009. These results suggest a stronger SKR source region during the summer than the winter related to the seasonal EUV effect, which is opposite to the trend observed in the Earth's kilometric radiation. A long-term correlation analysis was performed for the SKR, solar EUV flux, and solar wind parameters extrapolated from Earth's orbit by an magnetohydrodynamical simulation focusing on variations on timescales longer than several weeks. We confirmed clear positive correlations between the solar wind dynamic pressure and peak flux density in both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres during the declining phase of the solar cycle. We conclude that the solar wind variations on the timescale of the solar cycle control the SKR source region. In addition, it was also confirmed that the south-to-north ratios of SKR power flux and source altitudes are positively correlated with the solar EUV flux. This result strongly supports a seasonal EUV effect on the SKR source region. The variations of SKR activity over both seasonal and solar cycles are discussed in comparison to the terrestrial case. Key Points Long-term variations in Saturn's auroral radio source region were investigated Southern radio flux is100 times greater than the north during southern summer Long-term radio variations were also found to be controlled by the solar wind

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7019-7035
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov


  • Saturn
  • aurora
  • radio emission
  • season


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