Investigating the energy crisis in Io's plasma torus: plasma energetics in rotating magnetospheres

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Katherine M Ramer1, Margaret Kivelson1, Marissa Vogt2, Krishan K Khurana1, Raymond J Walker3 and Robert J Strangeway1, (1)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (2)Boston University, Boston, MA, United States, (3)University of California Los Angeles, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Los Angeles, CA, United States
It has long been recognized that there is something lacking in our understanding of the temperature of the Io plasma torus. In situ observations show that the temperature in the torus increases more than can be accounted for by ion pickup; as much as 20% of the needed energy is missing. However, the role of centrifugal acceleration has not been investigated as a potential source of plasma heating. Analysis of the role of centrifugal forces on the plasma population is difficult as the effects are both energy and pitch-angle dependent: adiabatic outward displacement of flux tubes in a rotating frame results in net cooling of equatorially mirroring plasma even when a centrifugal force is acting, but this is not necessarily the case for particles mirroring off the equator. An ion in a rotating, adiabatically stretching system bouncing away from its mirror point will gain parallel energy from the centrifugal force, but will lose it again as it moves back towards its mirror point; the bounce-averaged change in energy is small. Therefore the centrifugal force in an adiabatically expanding system is only able to impart significant energy to a particle if the timescale of the stretching is less than that of a bounce period. As a prelude to a full Large Scale Kinetic (LSK) simulation of particles in a rotating magnetic field, here we check that two prerequisite conditions are met. Firstly, we estimate an upper bound to the thermal energy that could be gained through centrifugal acceleration in order to demonstrate that there is sufficient energy to account for the temperature anomaly observed at Io's plasma torus. Secondly, we calculate the bounce period of ions typical to the torus to establish the range of energies for which the quarter bounce times are is shorter than the ~4 days required for the field in the Io plasma torus to stretch from 6-10 RJ. We will also describe preliminary results from our modeling efforts.