Flux tube and plasma torus

Flux tube and plasma torus

Fig. 9.16 . An electric current of five million amperes flows along Ioís flux tube. It connects Io to the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, like a giant umbilical cord. The plasma torus is centered near Ioís orbit, and it is about as thick as Jupiter is wide. The torus is filled with energetic sulfur and oxygen ions that have a temperature of about 100 thousand kelvin. Because the planetís rotational axis is tilted with respect to the magnetic axis, the orbit of the satellite Io (dashed line) is inclined to the plasma torus. Currents are generated as the plasma from the Io torus spreads into the vast, rotating magnetosphere of Jupiter, and these currents couple the moon to Jupiterís atmosphere where they stimulate a ring, or oval, of aurora emissions.

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University