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AGU: Geophysical Research Letters



  • Uranus
  • aurora
  • magnetosphere
  • plasma physics

Index Terms

  • 2704 - Auroral phenomena
  • 2716 - Energetic particles: precipitating
  • 2756 - Planetary magnetospheres
  • 2784 - Solar wind/magnetosphere interactions
  • 5706 - Aurorae

Paper in Press


Earth-based detection of Uranus' aurorae

Key Points
  • We report the first Earth-based detections of Uranus aurorae
  • This enabled us to investigate the atypical uranian magnetosphere
  • This open a wide field of investigations of this poorly understood magnetosphere


Laurent Lamy

Renee Prange

Kenneth C. Hansen

John T. Clarke

Philippe Zarka

Baptiste Cecconi

Jean Aboudarham

Nicolas André

Graziella Branduardi-Raymont

George Randall Gladstone

Mathieu Barthelemy

Nick Achilleos

Patrick Guio

Michele K. Dougherty

Henrik Melin

Stanley W. H. Cowley

Tom S. Stallard

Jonathan D. Nichols

Gilda E. Ballester

This study is based on multi-planet multi-wavelength observations of planetary aurorae throughout the heliosphere, acquired along the propagation path of a series of consecutive interplanetary shocks. The underlying motivation to track the shocks was to increase the probability of detection of auroral emissions at Uranus. Despite several Earth-based attempts in the past few years, at Far-UV (FUV) and Near-IR (NIR) wavelengths, such emissions have never been unambiguously re-observed since their discovery by Voyager 2 in 1986. Here, we present a campaign of FUV observations of Uranus obtained in November 2011 with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during active solar wind conditions. We positively identify auroral signatures in several of these HST measurements, together with some obtained in 1998, representing the first images of Uranus' aurorae. We analyze their characteristics and discuss the implications for the asymmetric Uranian magnetosphere and its highly variable interaction with the solar wind flow from near-solstice (1986) to near-equinox (2011) configurations.

Received 14 February 2012; accepted 13 March 2012.

Citation: Lamy, L., et al. (2012), Earth-based detection of Uranus' aurorae, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2012GL051312, in press.