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Io as a source of the jovian dust streams


Streams of dust emerging from the direction of Jupiter were discovered in 1992 during the flyby of the Ulysses spacecraft1,2, but their precise origin within the jovian system remained unclear2. Further data3,4,5 collected by the Galileo spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter since December 1995, identified the possible sources of dust as Jupiter's main ring6, its gossamer ring7, comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 (ref. 8) and Io. All but Jupiter's gossamer ring and Io have since been ruled out4,9,10,11,12,13,14. Here we find that the dominant source of the jovian dust streams is Io, on the basis of periodicities in the dust impact signal. Io's volcanoes, rather than impact ejecta, are the dust sources.

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Figure 1: A Lomb–Scargle periodogram15 for the first two years, 1996–1997, of Galileo data on the dust impact rate.
Figure 2: Sketch of one of Galileo's orbital trajectories from late 1997 overlaid with trajectory results from a model of dust stream particles12.

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We thank the Galileo project at JPL for effective and successful mission operations. We also thank J. A. Burns for helpful comments. This work was supported by Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt E.V. (DLR).

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Correspondence to A. L. Graps.

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Graps, A., Grün, E., Svedhem, H. et al. Io as a source of the jovian dust streams. Nature 405, 48–50 (2000).

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