The atomic hydrogen cloud in the saturnian system

W. L. Tseng*, R. E. Johnson, W. H. Ip

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The importance of Titan's H torus shaped by solar radiation pressure and of hydrogen atoms flowing out of Saturn's atmosphere in forming the broad hydrogen cloud in Saturn's magnetosphere is still debated. Since the Saturnian system also contains a water product torus which originates from the Enceladus plumes, the icy ring particles, and the inner icy satellites, as well as Titan's H 2 torus, we have carried out a global investigation of the atomic hydrogen cloud taking into account all sources. We show that the velocity and angle distributions of the hot H ejected from Saturn's atmosphere following electron-impact dissociation of H2 are modified by collisions with the ambient atmospheric H2 and H. This in turn affects the morphology of the escaping hydrogen from Saturn, as does the morphology of the ionospheric electron distribution. Although an exact agreement with the Cassini observations is not obtained, our simulations show that H directly escaping from Titan is the dominant contributor in the outer magnetosphere. Of the total number of H observed by Cassini from 1 to 5RS, ∼5.7×10 34, our simulations suggest ∼20% is from dissociation in the Enceladus torus, ∼5-10% is from dissociation of H2 in the atmosphere of the main rings, and ∼50% is from Titan's H torus, implying that ∼20% comes from Saturn atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-174
Number of pages11
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sept 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmosphere
  • Hydrogen
  • Magnetosphere
  • Saturn
  • Titan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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