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Unusual Auroras Over Saturn's North Pole
Unusual Auroras Over Saturn's North Pole (click to enlarge)

Unusual Auroras Over Saturn's North Pole

Infrared images by the robotic Cassini spacecraft of the north pole of Saturn have uncovered aurora unlike any other seen previously in our solar system. The strange auroras are shown in blue in the above image, while the underlying clouds are shown in red.

These Saturnian aurorae can cover the entire pole, while auroras around Earth and Jupiter are typically confined by magnetic fields to rings surrounding the magnetic poles. More normal auroral rings had been previously imaged around Saturn.

The large and variable nature of these auroras indicates that charged particles streaming in from the sun are experiencing some type of magnetism above Saturn that was previously unexpected.

Last Update: 28 Sept 2011 (AMB)

Credit: Cassini VIMS Team, JPL, ESA and NASA

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Last Updated: 28 Sep 2011