The discovery of a new radio emission from Jupiter is among the highlights of a three-year Austrian Science Fund FWF project. This project actually investigated the planetary radio-frequency emissions of the Earth and Saturn - and a strange radio emission from the planet Jupiter was discovered.
Further results of the project, which has now been completed, included the identification of a new modulation in terrestrial radio emissions, as well as analysis of particular components of Saturn´s radio emissions. External reviewers assessed the project as outstanding in the closing evaluation.
The Earth is loud. Radio-loud. That is how objects causing measurable radio emissions are described in astronomy. The Earth itself is one as well, whose magnet field influences charged particles (electrons, protons, and ions) in a way that causes radio emissions. Indeed, other planets such as Saturn or Jupiter cause these emissions as well. Measuring them allows us to draw conclusions about planetary magnetic fields. A project of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, carried out in Graz at the Space Research Institute (IWF) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, had just this goal.
The striking thing about the emission in the decametre region (wavelengths of about 10 metres) was especially its periodicity, that is, the change in its intensity. Up to now, there were two known periods for the decametre emission of Jupiter: one that resulted from the rotation of Jupiter running at 9 hours, 55 minutes, 29.7 seconds (System III), as well as a one further that can be traced back to the influence of Jupiter´s moon Io on the magnetic field (42.46 hours). The newly discovered component in the radio emissions, with a period of about 10.07 hours, lay approx. 1.5 percent higher than the one produced by Jupiter´s rotation. Dr. Panchenko comments: "Our further analyses suggest that the source of this new radio-frequency component co-rotates with Jupiter. We suspect that the source of the emission lies in the vicinity of the plasma torus fed by Jupiter´s moon Io." This is a donut-shaped region around Jupiter that lies at the elevation of Io´s orbital plane and has been formed by volcanic material from this moon interacting with Jupiter´s magnetic field. This hypothesis about the source and questions about how the radio impulses are created now need to be clarified in future projects.PROJECTS & PRODUCTS
Prof. Rucker´s view on the extension of the project: "Basic research lives from the unexpected. Thanks to the flexibility of the FWF, it was possible for us to meet scientific surprise with solid data analysis." A fact that the project´s international evaluators appreciated, when they provided assessments of ´outstanding´ in the final report.
Original publication: New periodicity in Jovian decametric radio emission, M. Panchenko, H. O. Rucker, M. L. Kaiser, O. C. St. Cyr, J.-L. Bougeret, K. Goetz and S. D. Bale. Geophysical Research Letters, VOL. 37, L05106, DOI: 10. 1029/2010GL042488, 2010Image and text available from Monday, 27 August 2012, at 09.00 CET at:
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