Everything's Connected

Saturn's auroras in time lapse sequence, taken by one of the most important science tools ever invented - ever! - the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Fact! Every planet with a magnetic field (Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) has auroras. Saturn has particularly spectacular auroras, as witnessed above, and below:

Look at them! They're things - you can see their thickness in this pic. That's because auroras are actually things - particles from the sun, sent flying on the solar wind, wrapping down the magnetic field of the planet towards both poles (due to the shape of spherical magnetic fields - everything is geometry, someone once said).  Cool, right?

It gets cooler. Scientists recently discovered - and believe me, despite all the wingnuts and Heebie Jeebies, we are in a Golden Age of scientific discovery, because of our advancing technology - that the coolest moon in the Solar System - Enceladus - is electrically connected to Saturn. They form a circuit. Lookee here:
On the left is a spot just below Saturn's Northern aurora, with a stream connecting to a big spot in an aurora like phenomena on Enceladus. These two spots spin around, the proof that they are connected. Check it:
This is Saturn's Northern aurora from above - in the upper left, you see a white box with a red dot in it. The red dot is the electrical field of Enceladus, as you can see it move in this time lapse image.There is a corresponding movement in the bright circle above Enceladus.

Enceladus is electrically charged in part because of all the water it expels. It expels a lot!  Enceladus contributes several of Saturn's rings, as it spews water into space which then freezes hard as rock then orbits around Saturn in a ring for some millions of years in beauteous wonder.

We are learning more and more about the Universe we exist in and are part of every day. It's amazing - to think! It was the mid 1990's when the first Exoplanet was confirmed, and now we are over 400 and about to sharply spike way higher - conventional wisdom now holds that just about every star has planetary bodies of some kind orbiting it. Meaning there are hundreds of billions (trillions?) of planets in our Galaxy. And of course there are hundreds of billions of galaxies. And so on.

The point? We live in a miracle. As a PS, here's humble ol' Earth, our home:
Aurora Australis, y'all.


Blue Collared Snob said...

Damn good blog.

Redshirt said...

Thanks BCS. I appreciate the words.