Plasma observations near Uranus: Initial results from Voyager 2

H. S. Bridge, J. W. Belcher, B. Coppi, A. J. Lazarus, R. L. McNutt, S. Olbert, J. D. Richardson, M. R. Sands, R. S. Selesnick, J. D. Sullivan, R. E. Hartle, K. W. Ogilvie, E. C. Sittler, F. Bagenal, R. S. Wolff, V. M. Vasyliunas, G. L. Siscoe, C. K. Goertz, A. Eviatar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Extensive measurements of low-energy positive ions and electrons in the vicinity of Uranus have revealed a fully developed magnetosphere. The magnetospheric plasma has a warm component with a temperature of 4 to 50 electron volts and a peak density of roughly 2 protons per cubic centimeter, and a hot component, with a temperature of a few kiloelectron volts and a peak density of roughly 0.1 proton per cubic centimeter. The warm component is observed both inside and outside of L=5, whereas the hot component is excluded from the region inside of that L shell. Possible sources of the plasma in the magnetosphere are the extended hydrogen corona, the solar wind, and the ionosphere. The Uranian moons do not appear to be a significant plasma source. The boundary of the hot plasma component at L=5 may be associated either with Miranda or with the inner limit of a deeply penetrating, solar wind-driven magnetospheric convection system. The Voyager 2 spacecraft repeatedly encountered the plasma sheet in the magnetotail at locations that are consistent with a geometric model for the plasma sheet similar to that at Earth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-93
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume233
Issue number4759
DOIs
StatePublished - 1986

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