X-Ray Observations and Interpretations

  • G. R. Pilkington
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 32)


The presence of soft X-rays in the stratosphere at high latitudes was first reported in 1956, and correctly identified as due to Bremsstrahlung from energetic auroral electrons entering the atmosphere. Balloon X-ray measurements provide the most direct means of monitoring auroral electron precipitation both day and night from a relatively fixed location, and for long periods of time. Further, no time constants are involved in the Bremsstrahlung process, and the approximate electron spectrum and flux can be obtained quite readily. X-ray measurements however, do suffer severe limitations. The Bremsstrahlung process is very inefficient and this, plus atmospheric attenuation of the X-rays, makes the method useful only in the energy range 20 to 200 keV. Further, due to the isotropic emission of X-rays by the source and subsequent scattering in the atmosphere, detectors at balloon altitudes provide only a spatially averaged picture of the electron precipitation.


Plasma Sheet Photoelectric Absorption Morning Sector Pitch Angle Diffusion Bremsstrahlung Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. R. Pilkington
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für AeronomieInstitut für StratosphärenphysikLindauGermany

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