University of Leicester
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Magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling currents in Jupiter's middle magnetosphere: dependence on the effective ionospheric Pedersen conductivity and iogenic plasma mass outflow rate

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-10-31, 11:20 authored by J. D. Nichols, S. W. H. Cowley
The amplitude and spatial distribution of the coupling currents that flow between Jupiter’s ionosphere and middle magnetosphere, which enforce partial corotation on outward-flowing iogenic plasma, depend on the values of the effective Pedersen conductivity of the jovian ionosphere and the mass outflow rate of iogenic plasma. The values of these parameters are, however, very uncertain. Here we determine how the solutions for the plasma angular velocity and current components depend on these parameters over wide ranges. We consider two models of the poloidal magnetospheric magnetic field, namely the planetary dipole alone, and an empirical current sheet field based on Voyager data. Following work by Hill (2001), we obtain a complete normalized analytic solution for the dipole field, which shows in compact form how the plasma angular velocity and current components scale in space and in amplitude with the system parameters in this case. We then obtain an approximate analytic solution in similar form for a current sheet field in which the equatorial field strength varies with radial distance as a power law. A key feature of the model is that the current sheet field lines map to a narrow latitudinal strip in the ionosphere, at ≈ 15° co-latitude. The approximate current sheet solutions are compared with the results of numerical integrations using the full field model, for which a power law applies beyond ≈ 20 RJ, and are found to agree very well within their regime of applicability. A major distinction between the solutions for the dipole field and the current sheet concerns the behaviour of the field-aligned current. In the dipole model the direction of the current reverses at moderate equatorial distances, and the current system wholly closes if the model is extended to infinity in the equatorial plane and to the pole in the ionosphere. In the approximate current sheet model, however, the field-aligned current is unidirectional, flowing consistently from the ionosphere to the current sheet for the sense of the jovian magnetic field. Current closure must then occur at higher latitudes, on field lines outside the region described by the model. The amplitudes of the currents in the two models are found to scale with the system parameters in similar ways, though the scaling is with a somewhat higher power of the conductivity for the current sheet model than for the dipole, and with a somewhat lower power of the plasma mass outflow rate. The absolute values of the currents are also higher for the current sheet model than for the dipole for given parameters, by factors of approx 4 for the field-perpendicular current intensities, ≈ 10 for the total current flowing in the circuit, and ≈ 25 for the field-aligned current densities, factors which do not vary greatly with the system parameters. These results thus confirm that the conclusions drawn previously from a small number of numerical integrations using spot values of the system parameters are generally valid over wide ranges of the parameter values.


JDN was supported during the course of this study by a PPARC Quota Studentship, and SWHC by PPARC Senior Fellowship PPA/N/S/2000/00197.



Annales Geophysicae (2003) 21: 1419–1441

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


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Annales Geophysicae (2003) 21: 1419–1441


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