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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 32, issue 6
Ann. Geophys., 32, 689–704, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 32, 689–704, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 27 Jun 2014

Regular paper | 27 Jun 2014

Magnetospheric magnetic field modelling for the 2011 and 2012 HST Saturn aurora campaigns – implications for auroral source regions

E. S. Belenkaya1, S. W. H. Cowley2, C. J. Meredith2, J. D. Nichols2, V. V. Kalegaev1, I. I. Alexeev1, O. G. Barinov1, W. O. Barinova1, and M. S. Blokhina1 E. S. Belenkaya et al.
  • 1Lomonosov Moscow State University, Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, 1(2), Leninskie Gory, GSP-1, Moscow 119991, Russian Federation
  • 2Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK

Abstract. A unique set of images of Saturn's northern polar UV aurora was obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2011 and 2012 at times when the Cassini spacecraft was located in the solar wind just upstream of Saturn's bow shock. This rare situation provides an opportunity to use the Kronian paraboloid magnetic field model to examine source locations of the bright auroral features by mapping them along field lines into the magnetosphere, taking account of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) measured near simultaneously by Cassini. It is found that the persistent dawn arc maps to closed field lines in the dawn to noon sector, with an equatorward edge generally located in the inner part of the ring current, typically at ~ 7 Saturn radii (RS) near dawn, and a poleward edge that maps variously between the centre of the ring current and beyond its outer edge at ~ 15 RS, depending on the latitudinal width of the arc. This location, together with a lack of response in properties to the concurrent IMF, suggests a principal connection with ring-current and nightside processes. The higher-latitude patchy auroras observed intermittently near to noon and at later local times extending towards dusk are instead found to straddle the model open–closed field boundary, thus mapping along field lines to the dayside outer magnetosphere and magnetopause. These emissions, which occur preferentially for northward IMF directions, are thus likely associated with reconnection and open-flux production at the magnetopause. One image for southward IMF also exhibits a prominent patch of very high latitude emissions extending poleward of patchy dawn arc emissions in the pre-noon sector. This is found to lie centrally within the region of open model field lines, suggesting an origin in the current system associated with lobe reconnection, similar to that observed in the terrestrial magnetosphere for northward IMF.

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