Secrets of Saturns polar light show unveiled by BU-led team of astronomers
Aurora on Saturn behave in ways different from how scientists have thought possible for the last 25 years, according to new research by a team of astronomers led by John Clarke, a professor in BUs Department of Astronomy and in the departments Center for Space Physics. The teams findings have overturned theories about how Saturns magnetosphere behaves and how its aurora are generated. Their results will be published in the February 17 issue of Nature.
In an unusual coordination of two spacecraft, the team was able to gather what proved to be startling data on Saturns aurora. By choreographing the instruments aboard the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope circling Earth to look at Saturns southern polar region, Clarke and his team found that the planets aurora, long thought of as a cross between those of Earth and Jupiter, are fundamentally unlike those observed on either of the other two planets. The lights that occasionally paint the sky over Saturn may, in fact, be a phenomenon unique within our solar system.
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