A group of researchers has just made the astonishing discovery that Saturn has auroras that can be seen during the day, with some even appearing at noon, and this is all made possible by the super fast rotation of this planet.
For their new study, scientists analyzed the large amount of data that was recorded on the Cassini spacecraft after it had completed its mission and collected as much information as possible during the 13 years that it spent orbiting Saturn, as Phys.org reports.
While we can generally only see auroras here on Earth when there is total darkness, this is not the case for Saturn, a planet where a day is just 10 hours, despite the fact that it is 760 times more enormous than Earth.
The new study has shown that when Saturn produces magnetic outbursts which occur roughly around noon, these help to bring about magical noontime auroras on the planet, according to Popular Science.
Because of these daytime auroras, researchers may be a little bit closer to understanding the strange x-rays they had previously detected from Jupiter where odd pulses were found to be occurring around this time also.
Zhonghua Yao, co-author of the new study, explained that the same process that is happening on Saturn may also be happening on Jupiter.
“We expect this process also to take place at Jupiter’s dayside magnetodisk, which could be confirmed by the NASA Juno mission that is exploring the Jovian magnetosphere.”
— Popular Science (@PopSci) June 5, 2018
With the collision of magnetic fields, hugely powerful explosions are oftentimes the result. This can be seen in plasmas, which also have magnetic fields in them. As such, when plasmas from the sun are suddenly thrust out and reach the Earth’s magnetosphere, magnetic reconnection of magnetic field lines will occur as these lines first break and then begin to reconnect.
Past research conducted on Saturn’s auroras has made scientists aware of reconnection events along the magnetopause during the day, and also at the magnetodisk on the side of the planet that is experiencing nighttime, with European Space Agency planetary scientist Nicolas Altobelli noting that “during a reconnection event for example, this plasma is released and accelerated.”
It is suggested that it is down to just how fast Saturn rotates that makes this important reconnection possible, according to Zhonghua Yao.
“This means that planetary rotation plays a far more important role in driving magnetic reconnection than we ever considered.”
The new research conducted on the daytime auroras of Saturn can be read in Nature Astronomy.