Volume 418, Number 1, April IV 2004
|Page(s)||337 - 345|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||02 April 2004|
X-ray emission from Saturn
Hamburger Sternwarte, Universität Hamburg, Gojenbergsweg 112, 21029 Hamburg, Germany
2 Chandra X-ray Center, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
3 Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), Postfach 1312, 85741 Garching, Germany
Corresponding author: J.-U. Ness, email@example.com
Accepted: 7 January 2004
We report the first unambiguous detection of X-ray emission originating from Saturn with a Chandra observation, duration 65.5 ks with ACIS-S3. Beyond the pure detection we analyze the spatial distribution of X-rays on the planetary surface, the light curve, and some spectral properties. The detection is based on 162 cts extracted from the ACIS-S3 chip within the optical disk of Saturn. We found no evidence for smaller or larger angular extent. The expected background level is 56 cts, i.e., the count rate is cts/s. The extracted photons are rather concentrated towards the equator of the apparent disk, while both polar caps have a relative photon deficit. The inclination angle of Saturn during the observation was ~, so that the northern hemisphere was not visible during the complete observation. In addition, it was occulted by the ring system. We found a small but significant photon excess at one edge of the ring system. The light curve shows a small dip twice at identical phases, but rotational modulation cannot be claimed at a significant level. Spectral modeling results in a number of statistically, but not necessarily physically, acceptable models. The X-ray flux level we calculate from the best-fit spectral models is ~ (in the energy interval 0.1–2 keV), which corresponds to an X-ray luminosity of ~. A combination of scatter processes of solar X-rays require a relatively high albedo favoring internal processes, but a definitive explanation remains an open issue.
Key words: planets and satellites: general / planets and satellites: individual: Saturn / X-rays: general
© ESO, 2004
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