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Journal Article

Auroral Beads at Saturn and the Driving Mechanism: Cassini Proximal Orbits


Roussos,  Elias
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Radioti, A., Yao, Z., Grodent, D., Palmaerts, B., Roussos, E., Dialynas, K., et al. (2019). Auroral Beads at Saturn and the Driving Mechanism: Cassini Proximal Orbits. Astrophysical Journal, Letters, 885(1): L16. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ab4e20.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-5886-1
During the Grand Finale Phase of Cassini, the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph on board the spacecraft detected repeated detached small-scale auroral structures. We describe these structures as auroral beads, a term introduced in the terrestrial aurora. Those on DOY 232 2017 are observed to extend over a large range of local times, i.e., from 20 LT to 11 LT through midnight. We suggest that the auroral beads are related to plasma instabilities in the magnetosphere, which are often known to generate wavy auroral precipitations. Energetic neutral atom enhancements are observed simultaneously with auroral observations, which are indicative of a heated high pressure plasma region. During the same interval we observe conjugate periodic enhancements of energetic electrons, which are consistent with the hypothesis that a drifting interchange structure passed the spacecraft. Our study indicates that auroral bead structures are common phenomena at Earth and giant planets, which probably demonstrates the existence of similar fundamental magnetospheric processes at these planets.