Oxygen ions in Jupiter’s innermost radiation belts — ScienceDaily


Nearly 20 years after the end of NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter, scientists led by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany have unlocked a new secret from the mission’s extensive data sets. For the first time, the research team was able to determine beyond doubt that the high-energy ions surrounding the gas giant as part of its inner radiation belt are primarily oxygen and sulfur ions. They are thought to have originated in volcanic eruptions on Jupiter’s moon Io. Near the orbit of the moon Amalthea, which orbits Jupiter further inward, the team discovered an unexpectedly high concentration of high-energy oxygen ions that cannot be explained by Io’s volcanic activity. A previously unknown ion source must be at work here. The results of the study were published today in the journal Science Advances.

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