Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Saturn's youthful appearance explained

Date:
April 30, 2013
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
As planets age they become darker and cooler. Saturn, however, is much brighter than expected for a planet of its age -- a question that has puzzled scientists since the late 1960s. New research has revealed how Saturn keeps itself looking young and hot.

Saturn.
Credit: © NJ / Fotolia

As planets age they become darker and cooler. Saturn however is much brighter than expected for a planet of its age -- a question that has puzzled scientists since the late sixties. New research published in the journal Nature Geoscience has revealed how Saturn keeps itself looking young and hot.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and the Ecole Normale Supιrieure de Lyon found that layers of gas, generated by physical instability deep within the giant planet, prevent heat from escaping and have resulted in Saturn failing to cool down at the expected rate.

Professor Gilles Chabrier from Physics & Astronomy at the University of Exeter said: "Scientists have been wondering for years if Saturn was using an additional source of energy to look so bright but instead our calculations show that Saturn appears young because it can't cool down. Instead of heat being transported throughout the planet by large scale (convective) motions, as previously thought, it must be partly transferred by diffusion across different layers of gas inside Saturn. These separate layers effectively insulate the planet and prevent heat from radiating out efficiently. This keeps Saturn warm and bright."

Characterised by its distinctive rings, Saturn is one of the largest planets in our Solar System, second only in size to massive Jupiter. It is primarily made of hydrogen and helium and its excessive brightness has previously been attributed to helium rains, the result of helium failing to mix with Saturn's hydrogen rich atmosphere.

Layered convection, like that recently discovered in Saturn, has been observed in Earth's oceans where warm, salty water lies beneath cool and less salty water. The denser, salty water prevents vertical currents forming between the different layers and so heat cannot be transported efficiently upwards.

These findings suggest that the interior structure, composition and thermal evolution of giant planets in our Solar System, and beyond, may be much more complex than previously thought.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jιrιmy Leconte, Gilles Chabrier. Layered convection as the origin of Saturn’s luminosity anomaly. Nature Geoscience, 2013; 6 (5): 347 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1791

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Saturn's youthful appearance explained." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430131525.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2013, April 30). Saturn's youthful appearance explained. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430131525.htm
University of Exeter. "Saturn's youthful appearance explained." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430131525.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the 'Human to Mars Summit' in Washington, says that learning more about the Red Planet can help answer the 'fundamental question' of 'life beyond Earth'. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) — NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) — SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

AP (Apr. 20, 2014) — Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The SpaceX company's cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. (April 20) Video provided by AP
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