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Astron. Astrophys. 355, 394-397 (2000)

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A search for X-ray emission from Saturn, Uranus and Neptune

J.-U. Ness and J.H.M.M. Schmitt

Hamburger Sternwarte, Universität Hamburg, Gojenbergsweg 112, 21029 Hamburg, Germany

Received 28 June 1999 / Accepted 4 January 2000


We present an analysis of X-ray observations of the trans-Jovian planets Saturn, Uranus and Neptune with the ROSAT PSPC in comparison with X-ray observations of Jupiter. For the first time a marginal X-ray detection of Saturn was found and 95% confidence upper limits for Uranus and Neptune were obtained. These upper limits show that Jupiter-like X-ray luminosities can be excluded for all three planets, while they are consistent assuming intrinsic Saturn-like X-ray luminosities. Similar X-ray production mechanisms on all trans-Jovian planets can therefore not be ruled out, and spectral shape and total luminosity observed from Saturn are consistent with thick-target bremsstrahlung caused by electron precipitation as occurring in auroral emission from the Earth.

Key words: planets and satellites: general – planets and satellites: individual: Neptune – planets and satellites: individual: Saturn – planets and satellites: individual: Uranus – X-rays: general

Send offprint requests to: J.-U. Ness

Correspondence to: jness@hs.uni-hamburg.de

This article contains no SIMBAD objects.


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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: March 17, 2000