Mysterious ‘rays’ slithering through Saturn’s rings


Image of the rays taken by Voyager 2 in 1981.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured images of mysterious, eerie “rays” that apparently move through Saturn’s rings.

This marks Saturn’s entry into what scientists call “Speke Season”, when it approaches autumnal equinoxwhich will likely take place on May 6, 2025. first time it happens after about 15 years.

At the moment, this phenomenon has no explanation in the eyes of scientists, notes o CNN. Its reappearance will allow scientists to re-examine it and possibly find a rationale.

“Thanks to Hubble’s OPAL program, which is creating a data archive of the Solar System’s outer planets, we will spend more time than ever studying Saturn’s lightning this season,” said NASA planetary scientist Amy Simon.

These “rays” were first discovered thanks to the Voyager probes, which flew past Saturn 1980 is 1981.

Since then, scientists have discovered that “rays” normally they appear dark above, although they appear bright below, and it’s not always there. The “rays” are only visible around Saturn’s equinox, when the planet’s rings are tilted toward the Sun.

Normally, the rays appear only in Saturn’s spring and autumn, the eight-year period centered on the equinox, and disappear during summer and winter, the period centered on the solstice.

“The suspect responsible for the lightning is variable magnetic field of the planet,” according to a NASA announcement. “Planetary magnetic fields interact with the solar wind, creating an electrically charged environment.”

“On Earth, when these charged particles reach the atmosphere, this is visible in the northern hemisphere as the northern lights,” the space agency explains.

In short, astronomers suspect that tiny particles may be carried by this activity, causing climb a little higher and create a visible stain.

“Despite years of excellent Cassini observations, the exact start and duration of the lightning season is still unclear. unpredictable, how to predict the first storm during hurricane season,” Amy Simon said in a statement.

Observations of “rays” in Saturn’s rings are detailed in a study recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Daniel Costa, ZAP //

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