Mysterious formation in Saturn's magnetic field

Mysterious formation in Saturn's magnetic field

Some of the latest Cassini mission data revealed a large structure in Saturn’s magnetic field, but there is still no clear understanding of how it was formed. NASA’s Cassini mission launched a series of bold dives between the planet and its inner ring in September 2017, before burning in a planetary atmosphere.

The first analysis of the information from the magnetometer shows that the magnetic field of Saturn is endowed with an inclination of less than 0.01 inch. It is believed that the magnetic fields around the planets are able to form only when there is a noticeable tilt between the axis of the planetary rotation and the axis of the magnetic field. This situation is noticeable on Earth, where the magnetic poles are offset from the geographic.

Such a slope supports currents in the layer of liquid metal deep inside the planet. On Earth, it is a liquid iron-nickel layer around a solid iron core, and on Saturn it is considered a metallic layer of hydrogen around a small rocky core. With each measurement of the tilt of the magnetic field of Saturn, it seems that it becomes even smaller. And this is strange, if we recall the earthly index of 11 degrees. There is a suspicion that Saturn’s turbulent dense-gas atmosphere hides some magnetic data. Or scientists will have to face the fact that different planets are capable of forming different magnetic fields. But this is not the latest news. The team also managed to find unusual structures in a magnetic field.

Closer to the planet recorded signals hinting at the secondary source of the magnetism of the planet. Above the deep layer of liquid hydrogen that forms the main magnetic field of Saturn, there is a smaller layer that creates many smaller stable magnetic fields. There is also an electric current flowing between the inner ring, D, and the planet. The rings intersect the main lines of the magnetic field around the equator, so they can play a significant role in the formation of magnetic fields generated from outside the planet.

The Cassini team is carefully studying these phenomena and models the possible structures for the interior of the planet. They also plan to combine their own data with information from other Cassini tools. For example, the combination of magnetometer and gravity indicators would determine the mass, size and density of the planet’s core.

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