Solar wind charge exchange X-ray emission from Mars
Model and data comparison
1 Université Versailles St-Quentin, CNRS/INSU, LATMOS-IPSL, 11 Bd d’Alembert, 78280 Guyancourt, France
2 Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas, École Polytechnique, UPMC, CNRS, Palaiseau, France
3 Physics Department, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA
4 GEPI, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, 92195 Meudon, France
Received: 30 May 2012
Accepted: 17 August 2012
Aims. We study the soft X-ray emission induced by charge exchange (CX) collisions between solar-wind, highly charged ions and neutral atoms of the Martian exosphere.
Methods. A 3D multispecies hybrid simulation model with improved spatial resolution (130 km) is used to describe the interaction between the solar wind and the Martian neutrals. We calculated velocity and density distributions of the solar wind plasma in the Martian environment with realistic planetary ions description, using spherically symmetric exospheric H and O profiles. Following that, a 3D test-particle model was developed to compute the X-ray emission produced by CX collisions between neutrals and solar wind minor ions. The model results are compared to XMM-Newton observations of Mars.
Results. We calculate projected X-ray emission maps for the XMM-Newton observing conditions and demonstrate how the X-ray emission reflects the Martian electromagnetic structure in accordance with the observed X-ray images. Our maps confirm that X-ray images are a powerful tool for the study of solar wind-planetary interfaces. However, the simulation results reveal several quantitative discrepancies compared to the observations. Typical solar wind and neutral coronae conditions corresponding to the 2003 observation period of Mars cannot reproduce the high luminosity or the corresponding very extended halo observed with XMM-Newton. Potential explanations of these discrepancies are discussed.
Key words: atomic processes / solar wind / planets and satellites: atmospheres / planets and satellites: individual: Mars / X-rays: individuals: Mars
© ESO, 2012