University Astronomer shows Saturn's wobbling aurora

Saturn's Northern and Southern Aurorae
Saturn's northern and southern aurorae

Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, Jonathan Nichols, astronomer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy's Radio and Space Plasma Physics group, and his collaborators have  observed oscillations in the locations of Saturn’s northern and southern auroral ovals. Both auroral ovals’ positions oscillate 1-2 degrees between dawn and dusk. While the southern auroral oval oscillation had been previously observed, this observation, made during Saturn’s 2009 equinox, is the first observation that indicates that the location of the northern auroral oval oscillates with similar amplitude. The researchers also found that the locations of the auroral ovals oscillate with periods close to the rotation periods of radio emissions known as Saturn kilometric radiation (SKR). 


Source:  Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL045818, 2010


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