Scientists have no idea why Megastorms leave radioactive traces on Saturn.
Scientists made the discovery after observing a Saturn that was usually dull through a radiotelescope on Earth. The planet was glowing with radioactive trace from as far back as 130 years.
A study in Science published August 11 states that radio waves were sent to Earth by the Very Large Array Radio Telescope located in New Mexico. Science Advances journal.
Radio telescopes revealed glowing chemical traces of all six Saturn megastorms that have been recorded since 1876, including one storm which could be new.
Radioactive traces mainly appeared as ammonia concentrations.
It’s not clear why megastorms leave radioactive traces.
Saturn is composed of 94 percent of hydrogen and 6 percent of helium, along with small quantities of ammonia and methane.
According to this study, “Saturn’s atmosphere appears hazy to the naked-eye most of the time in comparison to Jupiter’s vibrant and colorful atmosphere.”
The picture of Saturn changes dramatically when we use a radio eye.
Scientists continue to be puzzled by megastorms. These storms can last very long and they are extremely big, wrapping the planet.
A megastorm in 2010 lasted around 200 days – Saturn will also get frequent megastorms every 20-30 years.
It is now clear that long, intense storms have long-lasting effects radioactive on our planet.
Scientists are baffled by the radio waves, but the discovery could help them better understand Saturn.
Imke De Pater, a UC Berkeley Professor Emerita in Earth and Planetary Sciences and Astronomy who was involved with the discovery of radio waves explained.
“Radio observations help characterize dynamical, physical and chemical processes including heat transport, cloud formation and convection in the atmospheres of giant planets on both global and local scales,” Pater explained in a statement per Berkley News.
Lead study author Cheng Li an assistant professor at the University of Michigan also explained how the discovery will now “push boundaries” when understanding gas prominent planets.
“Understanding the mechanisms of the largest storms in the solar system puts the theory of hurricanes into a broader cosmic context, challenging our current knowledge and pushing the boundaries of terrestrial meteorology,” Li said in the Berkley News statement.