Saturn vibrations spiral out through its rings

Source: wikimedia.org

The report from the Daily Galaxy is headlined, “‘Saturn can vibrate like a bell’ –Creating spirals in the ancient rings.”

This is based on a Cornell study of data collected by NASA’s Cassini mission, that resulted in a published paper entitled, “Kronoseismology: Using Density Waves in Saturn’s C Ring to Probe the Planet’s Interior,” that was, “Co-authored by Philip Nicholson, Cornell professor of astronomy.”

From Dailygalaxy.com report, here’s more about the Cornell study published on June 11th in The Astronomical Journal:

Saturn’s rings act as a seismograph that records these large-scale oscillations, possibly emanating from deep within the planet. The study of these records provides a completely new way to probe structure and rotation of Saturn’s interior, and the astronomers have come up with a name for it: kronoseismology.

Saturn’s oscillations are similar to what are called “whole earth oscillations” in terrestrial seismology. On Earth, these are generated by very large earthquakes, which make the Earth ring for several days.

The researchers focused on a handful of unexplained waves in Saturn’s C ring that did not appear to be linked to well-understood gravitational interactions with anything within or outside of the rings. They used data from NASA’s Cassini mission, which has repeatedly profiled Saturn’s rings using “stellar occultations” via the spacecraft’s Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometerinstrument. The measurements record changes in light from a given star as the rings pass between the star and the spacecraft. Using numerous occultation measurements of the C ring, the researchers were able to piece together dossiers on these unexplained ring features.

The researchers found the density waves propagate inward and appear to be generated from within Saturn rather than from any moon; the six waves also have the right pattern speeds and symmetry properties to be produced by oscillations within Saturn.

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