X-Ray Emission from Jupiter's Galilean Moons: A Tool for Determining Their Surface Composition and Particle Environment

S. Nulsen, R. Kraft, G. Germain, W. Dunn, G. Tremblay, L. Beegle, G. Branduardi-Raymont, E. Bulbul, R. Elsner, R. Hodyss, S. Vance
2020 Astrophysical Journal  
We analyze archival Chandra X-ray Observatory observations of Jupiter to search for emission from the Galilean moons. X-ray emission has previously been reported from Io and Europa using a subset of these data. We confirm this detection, and marginally detect X-ray emission from both Ganymede and Callisto as well. The X-ray spectrum of Europa is strongly peaked around the neutral oxygen fluorescence line (525 eV), while Io's has peaks at both oxygen and sulfur (2308 eV) plus a broad continuum
more » ... a broad continuum between 350 and 5000 eV. Ganymede's spectrum is similar to Io's, but without the sulfur peak. A few events, mostly clustered around the oxygen line, are detected from Callisto. Using measurements by the Galileo mission of the specific intensity of ambient protons and electrons, we model the X-ray spectra and flux of the moons from two processes: particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) from the impact of energetic protons and X-ray emission from electron bremsstrahlung. With uncertainties of a factor of a few, the electron bremsstrahlung and PIXE models overestimate the X-ray flux from Europa, preventing us from making a definitive statement about the origin of the X-ray emission. The PIXE model of Io predicts emission lines at O and S similar to those observed, but underestimates their flux by nearly two orders of magnitude. Based on this discrepancy in the PIXE flux, combined with the detected broadband continuum in the spectrum, we conclude that the X-ray emission from Io is due to electron bremsstrahlung. Likewise, because of Ganymede's broad continuum, we tentatively conclude that its X-ray emission is also due to electron bremsstrahlung. Callisto is too faint in the X-rays to draw any conclusion. Obtaining in situ X-ray observations of the moons would provide a direct measurement of their elemental composition.
doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab8cbc fatcat:etjg23h4aneo5jcuu5oay26bwy