Magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling currents in Jupiter's middle magnetosphere
thesisposted on 15.12.2014, 10:41 by Jonathan D. Nichols
This thesis is a theoretical study of the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling current system in Jupiter's middle magnetosphere associated with the breakdown of corotation of iogenic plasma and the jovian main auroral oval. The study initially investigates the effects of the ionospheric Pedersen conductivity and the iogenic plasma mass outflow rate. Wide ranges of values of these parameters are inputted to the model and the results are compared for dipole and current sheet field models. It is shown that previous results, obtained using 'reasonable' spot values, are generally valid over wide ranges of the parameters. The study then investigates the effect of precipitation-induced enhancements of the Pedersen conductivity. Previous models have assumed constant conductivity, whereas it is expected to be significantly elevated by strong field-aligned currents. A model of the dependence of the Pedersen conductivity on the field-aligned current is developed and incorporated into the model. The findings help reconcile the theoretical results with observation. Specifically, the plasma is maintained closer to rigid corotation out to much further distances than theory previously predicted, the equatorial radial current exhibits a sharp rise in the inner region of the middle magnetosphere and plateaus off thereafter, in line with Galileo magnetic field data, and the field-aligned current is concentrated in a peak in the inner region, which is to where the main oval is usually mapped. Finally, the study investigates the effect of self-consistently including magnetosphere-ionosphere decoupling due to field-aligned voltages. The results show that for typical jovian conditions the effect is very small, such that the modification to the system parameters is generally two orders of magnitude below the values of the parameters themselves. The conclusion is that the assumption made in previous work, that the effect of the field-aligned voltages is small, is generally valid.