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A Search for Magnesium in Europa's Atmosphere

Hörst, S. M. and Brown, M. E. (2013) A Search for Magnesium in Europa's Atmosphere. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 764 (2). Art. No. L28. ISSN 2041-8205. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/764/2/L28.

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Europa's tenuous atmosphere results from sputtering of the surface. The trace element composition of its atmosphere is therefore related to the composition of Europa's surface. Magnesium salts are often invoked to explain Galileo Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer spectra of Europa's surface, thus magnesium may be present in Europa's atmosphere. We have searched for magnesium emission in the Hubble Space Telescope Faint Object Spectrograph archival spectra of Europa's atmosphere. Magnesium was not detected and we calculate an upper limit on the magnesium column abundance. This upper limit indicates that either Europa's surface is depleted in magnesium relative to sodium and potassium, or magnesium is not sputtered as efficiently resulting in a relative depletion in its atmosphere.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Brown, M. E.0000-0002-8255-0545
Additional Information:© 2013 American Astronomical Society. Received 2013 January 14; accepted 2013 January 26; published 2013 February 7. This work was initially supported by a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the California Institute of Technology funded by a trust established by J. Edward Richter. S.M.H. is supported by NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship AST-1102827.
Group:UNSPECIFIED, UNSPECIFIED, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)UNSPECIFIED
NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics FellowshipAST-1102827
Subject Keywords:planets and satellites: atmospheres; planets and satellites: composition
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130403-114922275
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:A Search for Magnesium in Europa's Atmosphere S. M. Hörst and M. E. Brown 2013 ApJ 764 L28
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:37743
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:03 Apr 2013 20:36
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:31

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