Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling and Auroral Emissions at Planets in Our Solar System and Beyond

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A Specialist Discussion Meeting organised by: Jonathan Nichols (Leicester) jdn<at> and Adam Masters (MSSL) am2<at>


Summary: Magnetosphere-ionosphere (M-I) coupling occurs at all planets with global magnetospheres and resistive ionospheres, in various configurations dependent on the nature of the transfer of momentum in each system.  At Earth, the solar wind drives the magnetospheric dynamics, at Jupiter these are dominated by the planet’s rotation coupled with the centrifugal outflow of internally-generated plasma, whilst Saturn presents an intriguing mix of internal and external driving. In this meeting we focus on the relationship between M-I coupling and auroral emissions, which is not only relevant for the study of planets in our solar system, but also the emerging field of exoplanetary research. At many planets, M-I coupling leads to spectacular auroral displays and associated radio emissions, which can be studied using an array of space- and ground-based instruments in order to understand the energetic processes occurring in magnetospheres. Further, the radio emissions resulting from M-I coupling processes at Jupiter-like exoplanets with internal plasma sources may offer a new method of detecting such objects.  Recent advancements in our understanding of M-I coupling and auroral processes at Earth, the outer planets and exoplanets will be discussed.


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