Imaging Jupiter's radiation belts down to 127 MHz with LOFAR

Rene Breton, J N {Girard}, P {Zarka}, C {Tasse}, S {Hess}, I {de Pater}, D {Santos-Costa}, Q {Nenon}, A {Sicard}, S {Bourdarie}, J {Anderson}, A {Asgekar}, M E {Bell}, I {van Bemmel}, M J {Bentum}, G {Bernardi}, P {Best}, A {Bonafede}, F {Breitling}, J W {Broderick}W N {Brouw}, M {Brüggen}, B {Ciardi}, S {Corbel}, A {Corstanje}, F {de Gasperin}, E {de Geus}, A {Deller}, S {Duscha}, J {Eislöffel}, H {Falcke}, W {Frieswijk}, Michael Garrett, J {Grie{\ss}meier}, A W {Gunst}, J W T {Hessels}, M {Hoeft}, J {Hörandel}, M {Iacobelli}, E {Juette}, V I {Kondratiev}, M {Kuniyoshi}, G {Kuper}, J {van Leeuwen}, M {Loose}, P {Maat}, G {Mann}, S {Markov}, R {McFadden}, D {McKay-Bukowski}, J {Moldon}, H {Munk}, A {Nelles}, M J {Norden}, E {Orru}, H {Paas}, M {Pandey-Pommier}, R {Pizzo}, A G {Polatidis}, W {Reich}, H {Röttgering}, A {Rowlinson}, D {Schwarz}, O {Smirnov}, M {Steinmetz}, J {Swinbank}, M {Tagger}, S {Thoudam}, M C {Toribio}, R {Vermeulen}, C {Vocks}, R J {van Weeren}, R A M J {Wijers}, O {Wucknitz}

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    Context. Observing Jupiter's synchrotron emission from the Earth remains today the sole method to scrutinize the distribution and dynamical behavior of the ultra energetic electrons magnetically trapped around the planet (because in-situ particle data are limited in the inner magnetosphere). Aims. We perform the first resolved and low-frequency imaging of the synchrotron emission with LOFAR at 127 MHz. The radiation comes from low energy electrons ( 1-30 MeV) which map a broad region of Jupiter's inner magnetosphere. Methods (see article for complete abstract) Results. The first resolved images of Jupiter's radiation belts at 127-172 MHz are obtained along with total integrated flux densities. They are compared with previous observations at higher frequencies and show a larger extent of the synchrotron emission source (>=4 $R_J$). The asymmetry and the dynamic of east-west emission peaks are measured and the presence of a hot spot at lambda_III=230 {\deg} $\pm$ 25 {\deg}. Spectral flux density measurements are on the low side of previous (unresolved) ones, suggesting a low-frequency turnover and/or time variations of the emission spectrum. Conclusions. LOFAR is a powerful and flexible planetary imager. The observations at 127 MHz depict an extended emission up to 4-5 planetary radii. The similarities with high frequency results reinforce the conclusion that: i) the magnetic field morphology primarily shapes the brightness distribution of the emission and ii) the radiating electrons are likely radially and latitudinally distributed inside about 2 $R_J$. Nonetheless, the larger extent of the brightness combined with the overall lower flux density, yields new information on Jupiter's electron distribution, that may shed light on the origin and mode of transport of these particles.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2015


    • Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
    • Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics


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