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Hubble Space Telescope Image of Jupiter


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Jovian aurorae on July 13th 1994

ESA Faint Object Camera images with HST of the Jovian aurorae on July 13th 1994. Left: 14:55 - 15:29 UT, right: 21:24 - 21:53 UT. Upper panel: north polar region, lower panel: south polar region.

Two pairs of images (north pole and south pole) have been taken 5 hours apart in search of the signature of the interaction of the dust in the leading wing of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with the plasma in the Jovian magnetosphere . The longitude of the central meridian (about 180 degrees in the left panel, and about 20 degrees in the right panel) correspond to the best visibility conditions of the north and south aurorae, respectively. The white to blue continuum is the contribution (in the wing of the filters) of near UV solar flux reflected by the Jovian atmosphere. The aurorae, due to the excitation of the upper atmospheric hydrogen by the magnetospheric particles are visible as ovals on the upper left and lower right images, and just at the limb in the lower left image. The extreme spatial resolution of the FOC after the implementation of COSTAR allows to note how narrow these arc are, especially the one in the Southern aurora which looks as a necklace ( 100 - 200 km). In these images, the north aurora is particularly faint, and in addition much fainter than the south aurora (an uncommon behaviour). This fading and the north to south ratio will be studied in relation with the passage of the comet dust in the Jovian magnetosphere. Weak north aurorae were also recorded simultaneosuly in far UV spectra taken with IUE and interpreted together with the FOC images.

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