We report the discovery of soft (0.25-2 keV) X-ray emission from the Galilean satellites Io and Europa, probably Ganymede, and from the Io Plasma Torus (IPT). Bombardment by energetic (greater than 10 keV) H, O, and S ions from the region of the IPT seems to be the likely source of the X-ray emission from the Galilean satellites. According to our estimates, fluorescent X-ray emission excited by solar X-rays, even during flares from the active Sun, charge-exchange processes, previously invoked to explain Jupiter's X-ray aurora and cometary X-ray emission, and ion stripping by dust grains fail to account for the observed emission. On the other hand, bremsstrahlung emission of soft X-rays from nonthermal electrons in the few hundred to few thousand eV range may account for a substantial fraction of the observed X-ray flux from the IPT.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science