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Surprising Science

Twin Auroras

The Hubble space telescope has caught Saturn’s twin auroras on camera during a rare equinox which reveals both polls of the planet lit up in a spectacular display.

The Hubble space telescope has caught Saturn’s twin auroras on camera during a rare equinox which reveals both polls of the planet lit up in a spectacular display. “Video of the cosmic light show was recorded during the Saturnal equinox last year when Hubble had a unique edge-on view of the planet’s rings, allowing it to take snapshots with both north and south poles in view. The rare footage reveals slight differences between the auroras, with the glowing lights in the north being smaller but more intense than those in the south. The effect is caused by Saturn’s magnetic field being unequally distributed across the planet and stronger in the north. Auroras on Saturn, as on Earth, are caused by charged particles from the sun becoming trapped in the magnetic field of the planet. The particles concentrate at the poles where the magnetic field is strongest. The familiar glow of an aurora is created when these energetic particles slam into atoms in the upper layer of the atmosphere.”


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