Saturn's dayside ultraviolet auroras:Evidence for morphological dependence on the direction of the upstream interplanetary magnetic field

Meredith, C. J. and Alexeev, I. I. and Badman, S. V. and Belenkaya, E. S. and Cowley, S. W. H. and Dougherty, M. K. and Kalegaev, V. V. and Lewis, G. R. and Nichols, J. D. (2014) Saturn's dayside ultraviolet auroras:Evidence for morphological dependence on the direction of the upstream interplanetary magnetic field. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 119 (3). pp. 1994-2008. ISSN 2169-9402

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We examine a unique data set from seven Hubble Space Telescope (HST) "visits" that imaged Saturn's northern dayside ultraviolet emissions exhibiting usual circumpolar "auroral oval" morphologies, during which Cassini measured the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) upstream of Saturn's bow shock over intervals of several hours. The auroras generally consist of a dawn arc extending toward noon centered near similar to 15 degrees colatitude, together with intermittent patchy forms at similar to 10 degrees colatitude and poleward thereof, located between noon and dusk. The dawn arc is a persistent feature, but exhibits variations in position, width, and intensity, which have no clear relationship with the concurrent IMF. However, the patchy postnoon auroras are found to relate to the (suitably lagged and averaged) IMF B-z, being present during all four visits with positive B-z and absent during all three visits with negative B-z. The most continuous such forms occur in the case of strongest positive B-z. These results suggest that the postnoon forms are associated with reconnection and open flux production at Saturn's magnetopause, related to the similarly interpreted bifurcated auroral arc structures previously observed in this local time sector in Cassini Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph data, whose details remain unresolved in these HST images. One of the intervals with negative IMF B-z however exhibits a prenoon patch of very high latitude emission extending poleward of the dawn arc to the magnetic/spin pole, suggestive of the occurrence of lobe reconnection. Overall, these data provide evidence of significant IMF dependence in the morphology of Saturn's dayside auroras.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
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©2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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30 Jul 2014 15:22
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19 Sep 2023 01:16