Articles | Volume 24, issue 6
03 Jul 2006
 | 03 Jul 2006

Saturn's aurora in the January 2004 events

E. S. Belenkaya, S. W. H. Cowley, and I. I. Alexeev

Abstract. Differences in the solar wind interaction with the magnetosphere of Saturn relative to the Earth result from the decrease in the solar wind plasma density and magnetic field strength with distance from the Sun, and from the change in the average angle of the IMF at Saturn's orbit. Other reasons are related to Saturn's rapid rotation and internal magnetospheric plasma sources. Moreover, the IMF structure observed by Cassini in 2003–2004 during the approach to Saturn is consistent with corotating interaction regions (CIRs) existing during the declining phase of the solar cycle. Two cases on 16 and 26 January 2004 are considered when disturbances in the solar wind passed Cassini and then Saturn. After the solar wind shock encountered the kronian magnetosphere, the auroral oval became brighter (especially at dawn) with a reduced radius. In these cases the auroral power was anti-correlated with the radius of the oval. Possible mechanisms responsible for such unexpected behavior are presented and discussed in detail.