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Saturn's Aurora

Saturn's Aurora

C029/5764

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Credit

ESA / HUBBLE & NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ESA / HUBBLE & NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured images of the dancing auroral lights at Saturn's north pole. Taken from Hubble's perspective in orbit around the Earth, these images provide a detailed look at Saturn's stormy aurorae, revealing previously unseen dynamics in the choreography of the auroral glow. The cause of the changing patterns in Saturn's aurorae is an ongoing mystery in planetary science. These ultraviolet images, taken by Hubble's super-sensitive Advanced Camera for Surveys, add new insight by capturing moments when Saturn's magnetic field is affected by bursts of particles streaming out from the Sun. Saturn has a long, comet-like magnetic tail known as a magnetotail, a feature present around planets that have a magnetic field, caused by a rotating core of magnetic elements. It appears that when bursts of particles from the Sun hit Saturn, the planet's magnetotail collapses and later reconfigures itself, an.

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