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WORLD NEWS | Hubble captures start of new ‘spoke’ season on Saturn: NASA

WORLD NEWS | Hubble captures start of new ‘spoke’ season on Saturn: NASA

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (PTI) — The appearance of spokes on Saturn’s rings in new images of Saturn taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope heralds the start of a new “spoke” season, according to a statement by NASA.

Scientists will look for clues to explain the origin and nature of the spokes, the statement said.

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The suspected culprit for the spokes is the planet’s variable magnetic field, the statement said.

The planet’s magnetic field interacts with the solar wind to create a charged environment.

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On Earth, the Northern Lights, or Northern Lights, can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere when these charged particles hit the atmosphere, NASA said.

Scientists believe that the smallest, dust-sized particles of the ice ring also become electrically charged, which temporarily suspends these particles above the rest of the larger ice particles and boulders in the ring, NASA said.

Like Earth, Saturn is tilted on its axis so it has four seasons, but because Saturn’s orbit is much larger, each season lasts about seven Earth years, the space agency said.

The equinox occurs when the halo tilts to the edge of the sun.

The spokes disappear when Saturn approaches the summer or winter solstice, when the sun appears to reach its highest or lowest latitude in the planet’s northern or southern hemisphere, respectively, the space agency said.

The spokes are expected to become increasingly prominent and observable as Saturn’s northern hemisphere equinox approaches on May 6, 2025, the statement said.

The latest Hubble images herald the start of Saturn’s “spoke season,” with two dirty spokes appearing in the B ring, one of Saturn’s rings, the statement said.

These transient features won’t last long, but more will appear as Earth’s autumnal equinox approaches, the statement said.

The ring spokes were first observed by NASA’s Voyager mission in the early 1980s. Depending on lighting and viewing angles, the ephemeral and enigmatic features could appear dim or bright, the statement said.

“Thanks to Hubble’s OPAL program, which is building a data archive of exoplanets, we’ll have longer There are more statements than ever dedicated to Saturn this season.”

Thanks to the OPAL program, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has dedicated time each year to observe Saturn, and the energetic gas giant is always showing something new, NASA said.

Saturn’s last equinox occurred in 2009, when NASA’s Cassini spacecraft was orbiting the gas giant for close reconnaissance, the agency said in a statement.

With the Cassini mission completed in 2017 and the Voyager spacecraft long gone, Hubble is continuing its long-term work of monitoring changes in Saturn and other outer planets, the space agency said.

“Despite years of excellent observations by the Cassini mission, the exact start and duration of spoke season remains as unpredictable as predicting the first storm in hurricane season,” Simon said.

While the other three gas giants in our solar system also have ring systems, nothing compares to Saturn’s remarkable rings as a laboratory for studying the phenomenon of spokes, the statement said.

Whether spokes will or will appear on other ringed planets is unknown, NASA said.

“It’s the kind of fascinating natural magic that we can only see on Saturn — at least for now,” Simon said.

Hubble’s OPAL program will add visual and spectroscopic data from ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths of light to Cassini’s archive of observations, NASA said.

Scientists look forward to putting the pieces together to gain a more complete understanding of the spoke phenomenon, and what it reveals about the physics of rings in general, the statement said.

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)

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