EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 451, Number 2, May IV 2006
Page(s) 709 - 722
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20054253
A&A 451, 709-722 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20054253

First observation of Mars with XMM-Newton

High resolution X-ray spectroscopy with RGS
K. Dennerl1, C. M. Lisse2, A. Bhardwaj3, V. Burwitz1, J. Englhauser1, H. Gunell4, M. Holmström4, F. Jansen5, V. Kharchenko6 and P. M. Rodríguez-Pascual7

1  Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstraße, 85748 Garching, Germany
    e-mail: kod@mpe.mpg.de
2  Johns Hopkins University APL, 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, MD 20723, USA
3  NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, NSSTC/XD12, 320 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35805, USA On leave from: Space Physics Laboratory, Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, Trivandrum 695022, India
4  Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Box 812, 981 28 Kiruna, Sweden
5  European Space Agency, ESTEC Postbus 299, Noordwijk 2200AG, The Netherlands
6  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
7  XMM-Newton SOC, Apartado 50727 Villafranca, Madrid 28080, Spain

(Received 24 September 2005 / Accepted 30 December 2005)

In the first observation of Mars with XMM-Newton, on 20-21 November 2003, this planet is clearly detected as an X-ray source. High resolution X-ray spectroscopy with the Reflection Grating Spectrometer (RGS) confirms that the X-ray radiation from Mars is composed of two different components: one due to fluorescent scattering of solar X-rays in its upper atmosphere and the other one due to solar wind charge exchange in its exosphere. Close to Mars, the RGS spectrum is dominated by two pronounced CO2 fluorescence lines at 23.5 Å and 23.7 Å. Fluorescence from N2 at 31.5 Å is also observed. With increasing distance from Mars, these lines fade, while numerous (~12) emission lines become prominent at the positions expected for de-excitation of highly ionized C, N, O, and Ne atoms, strongly resembling a cometary X-ray spectrum. The He-like O6+ multiplet is resolved and is dominated by the spin-forbidden magnetic dipole transition 2 $^3\rm S_1$ $\to$ 1 $^1\rm S_0$, confirming charge exchange as the origin of the emission, while the resonance line 2 $^1\rm P_1$ $\to$ 1 $^1\rm S_0$ increases in intensity closer to Mars, where the density of the exosphere is higher. The high spectral dispersion and throughput of XMM-Newton / RGS make it possible to produce X-ray images of the Martian exosphere in individual emission lines, free from fluorescent radiation. They show extended emission out to ~8 Mars radii, with morphological differences between individual ions and ionization states. This is the first definite detection of charge exchange induced X-ray emission from the exosphere of another planet, providing a direct link to cometary X-ray emission.

Key words: atomic processes -- molecular processes -- solar wind -- Sun: X-rays, gamma rays -- planets and satellites: individual: Mars -- X-rays: individuals: Mars

© ESO 2006