New clues may help solve Saturn's rotation mystery

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Washington, September 10 (ANI): A team of scientists has found new clues that could help solve Saturn's rotation mystery.

Scientists have known for some time that Saturn emits intense kilometer-wavelength radio emission, known as Saturn kilometric radiation (SKR), which rotates with a period of 10.8 hours.

However, they have been puzzled by more recent observations that found a component of this oscillation with a slightly different rotation period, about 10.6 hours.

It had been thought that the motion of magnetospheric particles that emit SKR radiation was linked to motion of the planetary interior, but the discovery of the second component cast doubt on this interpretation.

Further investigating the characteristics of the two SKR components, D. A. Gurnett and his team from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Iowa, along with international colleagues, found that the 10.8-hour component originates from Saturn's southern auroral region, while the more recently discovered 10.6-hour component originates from the northern auroral region.

They discuss several north-south asymmetries on Saturn that could be factors in explaining the asymmetry in SKR rotation rates.

The researchers believe that the study should help improve scientists' understanding of how angular momentum is transferred from the inner planet to Saturn's magnetosphere. (ANI)

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