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European Space Agency releases new shots of Saturn's auroras

Image: NASA/ESA/J. Nichols, University of Leicester.

Image: NASA/ESA/J. Nichols, University of Leicester.


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 6:00 PM - Say 'Aurora', and you'll likely be thinking of the dazzling multi-coloured light shows that dance in the skies at Earth's higher latitudes.

But the phenomenon isn't unique to Earth. It's been observed around Saturn's polar regions for decades, the European Space Agency released a new glimpse of the planet's auroras over the weekend.

"Saturn was caught during a very dynamic light show," ESA researchers said when the new images were released. "Some of the bursts of light seen shooting around Saturn's polar regions travelled more than three times faster than the speed of the gas giant's roughly 10-hour rotational period."

They seem to be in blue because they were taken in ultraviolet using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

The pictures were taken by Hubble in 2013 as part of a three-year observation, and included in new research published in Geophysical Research Letters on Monday.

Auroras were first observed on Saturn in 1979, according to NASA. Here are shots taken in a more realistic colour by Hubble in 2004:

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MEANWHILE, IN CANADA: The Weather Network viewers are enthusiastic about photographing auroras here on Earth. Here's a selection of their best shots.


That's a long time to be watching the ringed planet, so we've a wealth of images of Saturn's auroras. 

You can see a great selection of them in this 'music video' released by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in February this year:


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