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Regular version of the site

Article

Acceleration of electrons in Titan’s ionosphere

Journal of Geophysical Research. 2010. Vol. 115. No. A3. P. A03212 .
Zaitsev V. V., Shaposhnikov V. E., Khodachenko M. L., Rucker H. O., Panchenko M.

A consideration of the acceleration mechanism which supplies the fast electrons to the source of Saturnian kilometric radiation (SKR) and an interpretation of the recently reported observational indications of the influence of Titan on the SKR are presented. The proposed mechanism operates by the effect of the different magnetization of the electrons and ions in Titan’s ionosphere which in the course of Titan’s motion through the Saturnian magnetic field causes the creation of a charge‐separation electric field. This field has a component parallel to the magnetic field and accelerates part of the ionospheric electrons (called “runaway electrons”). The performed estimates show that the mechanism accelerates the runaway electrons up to an energy of ∼5 keV. The power of the acceleration mechanism is sufficient for SKR generation and also for the ultraviolet luminescence of Titan’s atmosphere. The weakening of the SKR when Titan passes on the dayside of Saturn is due to a decrease of the magnetic field strength near the dayside magnetopause, when the Moon escapes the Saturnian magnetosphere, as well as due to the break in the magnetic connection between the electron acceleration region on Titan and the SKR sources. The latter prevents the penetration of the accelerated electrons into the radiation generation region. When Titan is on the nightside of Saturn, it enters into shell L∼14, which is stretched owing to the ring current. In this case, the electrons that accelerated in the ionosphere of Titan can reach the nightside SKR sources and activate them and therefore being the reason for the Titan influence on the SKR.