Triton: Topside ionosphere and nitrogen escape

Y. L. Yung, J. R. Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The principal ion in the ionosphere of Triton is N+. Energetic electrons of magnetospheric origin are the primary source of ionization, with a smaller contribution due to photoionization. To explain the topside plasma scale height, we postulate that N+ ions escape from Triton. The loss rate is 3.4 × 107 cm−2 s−1 or 7.9 × 1024 ions s−1. Dissociative recombination of N+2 produces neutral exothermic fragments that can escape from Triton. The rate is estimated to be 8.6 × 106 N cm−2 s−1 or 2.0 × 1024 atoms s−1. Implications for the magnetosphere of Neptune and Triton's evolution are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1717-1720
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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