Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unexpected Cooling Effect In Saturn's Upper Atmosphere

Date:
January 26, 2007
Source:
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council
Summary:
UK researchers from University College London (UCL), along with colleagues from Boston University, have found that the hotter than expected temperature of Saturn's upper atmosphere -- and that of the other giant planets -- is not due to the same mechanism that heats the atmosphere around the Earth's Northern Lights. Reporting in Nature (Jan. 25) the researchers findings thus rule out a long-held theory.

UK researchers from University College London (UCL), along with colleagues from Boston University, have found that the hotter than expected temperature of Saturn's upper atmosphere -- and that of the other giant planets -- is not due to the same mechanism that heats the atmosphere around the Earth's Northern Lights. Reporting in Nature (25th January) the researchers findings thus rule out a long held theory.

A simple calculation to give the expected temperature of a planet's upper atmosphere balances the amount of sunlight absorbed by the energy lost to the lower atmosphere. But the calculated values don't tally with the actual observations of the Gas Giants: they are consistently much hotter.

It has long been thought that the culprit behind the heating process was the ionosphere, being driven by the planet's magnetic field, or magnetosphere. By using numerical models of Saturn's atmosphere the researchers found that the net effects of the winds driven by polar energy inputs is not to heat the atmosphere but to actually cool it.

Professor Alan Aylward, of the UCL Department of Physics & Astronomy, and an author of the study, explains: "The aurora has been studied for over a hundred years, yet our discovery takes us back to first principles. We need to re-examine our basic assumptions about planetary atmospheres and what causes the observed heating."

"Studying what happens on planets such as Saturn gives us an insight into what happens closer to home. Planets can lose their atmospheres as we see with Mars. Do we completely understand how this happens? Are there mechanisms heating the gas and causing it to escape that we do not yet fully understand? By studying what happens in other atmospheres we may find clues to Earth's future."

The study was funded by the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and Sun Microsystems Ltd and carried out using the HiPerSPACE facility at University College London.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. "Unexpected Cooling Effect In Saturn's Upper Atmosphere." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070125110611.htm>.
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. (2007, January 26). Unexpected Cooling Effect In Saturn's Upper Atmosphere. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070125110611.htm
Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council. "Unexpected Cooling Effect In Saturn's Upper Atmosphere." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070125110611.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) Researchers at Fermilab are using a device called "The Holometer" to test whether our universe is actually a 2-D hologram that just seems 3-D. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

Newsy (Aug. 23, 2014) The private spaceflight company says it is preparing a thorough investigation into Friday's mishap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Russian cosmonauts say they've found evidence of sea plankton on the International Space Station's windows. NASA is a little more skeptical. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins