Scientists were perplexed at the huge polar cyclones and how exactly they formed, but now they have the amazing details.
Violent thunderstorms in Saturn’s atmosphere could be the reason behind the gigantic polar cyclones seen on Saturn, which could help astronomers better understand how atmospheres work in exoplanets outside our Solar System.
These huge, swirling hurricanes at the poles of Saturn have baffled scientists for years as they sought answers to questions like why the storms last so long, and how they are created, according to a Discovery News report.
Another mysterious aspect of these storms is particularly prevalent in the north polar cyclone, which is a hexagonal shape that scientists believe is created by eddies surrounding the vortex, but not much has been known about the driving forces behind them.
One of the interesting facets about Saturn’s cyclones is that they can’t possibly form like they do on Earth, as our cyclones are created due to the flow of moisture over the oceans, whereas Saturn is devoid of water.
Instead, a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience posits that numerous small thunderstorms in the atmosphere are combining and forming these huge cyclones.
The observations were made possible by the Cassini spacecraft. Previously, scientists didn’t think polar cyclones were possible, until Cassini proved otherwise with its observations.
Scientists now believe that many of these thunderstorms pulled atmospheric gases up to the poles in a process called “beta drift,” which result in huge swirling cyclones.
Using the data from Saturn, astronomers are now able to determine whether other planets also are likely to have polar cyclones. They found that within our own Solar System, Jupiter is unlikely to ever have polar cyclones and Neptune would have short-lived polar cyclones that come and go.