Saturn Aurora Sparkles In New Hubble Images

by Elizabeth Howell on May 19, 2014

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Several images of an aurora on Saturn's north pole taken in April and May 2013 by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA, Acknowledgement: J. Nichols (University of Leicester)

Several images of an aurora on Saturn’s north pole taken in April and May 2013 by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA, Acknowledgement: J. Nichols (University of Leicester)

It’s amazing to see what some flashes of light can tell us. New images the Hubble Space Telescope took of Saturn not only reveal auroras dancing in the north pole, but also reveal some interesting things about the giant planet’s magnetic field.

“It appears that when particles from the Sun hit Saturn, the magnetotail collapses and later reconfigures itself, an event that is reflected in the dynamics of its auroras,” the European Space Agency wrote in a description of the image.

“Saturn was caught during a very dynamic light show – some of the bursts of light seen shooting around Saturn’s polar regions traveled more than three times faster than the speed of the gas giant’s roughly 10-hour rotation period.”

And for those readers that remember the music video from Saturn that the Cassini spacecraft took — also of auroras — ESA said this new research complements what the other spacecraft did, too.

The research has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters.

Source: ESA

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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