Volume 587, March 2016
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||11 February 2016|
Imaging Jupiter’s radiation belts down to 127 MHz with LOFAR
AIM, UMR CEA-CNRS-Paris 7, Irfu, Service d’Astrophysique, CEA
2 LESIA, UMR CNRS 8109, Observatoire de Paris, 92195 Meudon, France
3 GEPI, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
4 ONERA, DESP, 2 Av. Édouard Belin, 31055 Toulouse, France
5 University of California, Department of Astronomy, 501 Campbell Hall, Berkeley CA 94720, USA
6 Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, USA
7 Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam, DeutschesGeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, Department 1: Geodesy and Remote Sensing, Telegrafenberg, A17, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
8 ASTRON, The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, Postbus 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
9 Shell Technology Center, Bangalore, India
10 CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility, PO Box 76, Epping NSW 1710, Australia
11 Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe, Dwingeloo, Postbus 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
12 University of Twente, 7522 NB Enschede, The Netherlands
13 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
14 Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Royal Observatory of Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ, UK
15 University of Hamburg, Gojenbergsweg 112, 21029 Hamburg, Germany
16 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
17 Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics, School of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
18 School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK
19 Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, PO Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
20 Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Karl Schwarzschild Str. 1, 85741 Garching, Germany
21 Department of Astrophysics/IMAPP, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands
22 SmarterVision BV, Oostersingel 5, 9401 JX Assen, The Netherlands
23 Thüringer Landessternwarte, Sternwarte 5, 07778 Tautenburg, Germany
24 Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
25 LPC2E – Université d’Orléans/CNRS, 45100 Orléans, France
26 Station de Radioastronomie de Nançay, Observatoire de Paris – CNRS/INSU, USR 704 – Univ. Orléans, OSUC, route de Souesmes, 18330 Nançay, France
27 Anton Pannekoek Institute, University of Amsterdam, Postbus 94249, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
28 Astronomisches Institut der Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitaetsstrasse 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany
29 Astro Space Center of the Lebedev Physical Institute, Profsoyuznaya str. 84/32, 117997 Moscow, Russia
30 National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, 2 Chome-21-1 Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan
31 Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Tähteläntie 62, 99600 Sodankylä, Finland
32 STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Didcot OX11 0QX, UK
33 Center for Information Technology (CIT), University of Groningen, 9712 CP Groningen, The Netherlands
34 Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon, Observatoire de Lyon, 9 Av. Charles André, 69561 Saint Genis Laval Cedex, France
35 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
36 Fakultät für Physik, Universität Bielefeld, Postfach 100131, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany
37 Department of Physics and Electronics, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, 6140 Grahamstown, South Africa
38 SKA South Africa, 3rd Floor, The Park, Park Road, 7405 Pinelands, South Africa
39 ALMA Regional Centre Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
Received: 7 October 2015
Accepted: 27 November 2015
Context. With the limited amount of in situ particle data available for the innermost region of Jupiter’s magnetosphere, Earth-based observations of the giant planets synchrotron emission remain the sole method today of scrutinizing the distribution and dynamical behavior of the ultra energetic electrons magnetically trapped around the planet. Radio observations ultimately provide key information about the origin and control parameters of the harsh radiation environment.
Aims. We perform the first resolved and low-frequency imaging of the synchrotron emission with LOFAR. At a frequency as low as 127 MHz, the radiation from electrons with energies of ~1–30 MeV are expected, for the first time, to be measured and mapped over a broad region of Jupiter’s inner magnetosphere.
Methods. Measurements consist of interferometric visibilities taken during a single 10-hour rotation of the Jovian system. These visibilities were processed in a custom pipeline developed for planetary observations, combining flagging, calibration, wide-field imaging, direction-dependent calibration, and specific visibility correction for planetary targets. We produced spectral image cubes of Jupiter’s radiation belts at the various angular, temporal, and spectral resolutions from which flux densities were measured.
Results. The first resolved images of Jupiter’s radiation belts at 127–172 MHz are obtained with a noise level ~20–25 mJy/beam, along with total integrated flux densities. They are compared with previous observations at higher frequencies. A greater extent of the synchrotron emission source (≥4 RJ) is measured in the LOFAR range, which is the signature – as at higher frequencies – of the superposition of a “pancake” and an isotropic electron distribution. Asymmetry of east-west emission peaks is measured, as well as the longitudinal dependence of the radial distance of the belts, and the presence of a hot spot at λIII = 230° ± 25°. Spectral flux density measurements are on the low side of previous (unresolved) ones, suggesting a low-frequency turnover and/or time variations of the Jovian synchrotron spectrum.
Conclusions. LOFAR proves to be a powerful and flexible planetary imager. In the case of Jupiter, observations at 127 MHz depict the distribution of ~1–30 MeV energy electrons up to ~4–5 planetary radii. The similarities of the observations at 127 MHz with those at higher frequencies reinforce the conclusion that the magnetic field morphology primarily shapes the brightness distribution features of Jupiter’s synchrotron emission, as well as how the radiating electrons are likely radially and latitudinally distributed inside about 2 planetary radii. Nonetheless, the detection of an emission region that extends to larger distances than at higher frequencies, combined with the overall lower flux density, yields new information on Jupiter’s electron distribution, and this information may ultimately shed light on the origin and mode of transport of these particles.
Key words: planets and satellites: magnetic fields / radio continuum: planetary systems / techniques: interferometric
© ESO, 2016
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.