Imaging Jupiter's aurorae from H+ 3 emissions in the 3-4 μm band

Richard Baron, Robert D. Joseph, Tobias Owen, Jonathan Tennyson, Steven Miller, Gilda E. Ballester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


SINCE H+ 3 was first spectroscopically detected on Jupiter1,2, there has been considerable interest in using this simple molecular ion to probe conditions existing in the planet's auroral regions. Here we present a series of images of Jupiter recorded at wavelengths sensitive to emission by H+ 3, which reveal the spatial distribution of excited H+ 3 molecular ions in the jovian ionosphere, as seen from Earth. We believe that they provide high-spatial-resolution images of polar aurorae on Jupiter. They suggest that the intensity of the auroral emission can vary on a timescale of an hour, a shorter period than had previously been noted. We also find that the spatial distribution of H+ 3 emissions correlates only partially with the loci of auroral activity inferred from ultraviolet and longer-wavelength infrared observations. The H+ 3 emission may therefore be controlled by auroral processes that are different from those responsible for the ultraviolet and infrared emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-542
Number of pages4
Issue number6344
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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