Feeds

Saturn: officially a cool, hot planet

Back to first principles, say boffins

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Scientists will have to go back to the drawing board to find an explanation for the hotter than expected temperatures in the upper atmospheres of the gas giants. New research modelling the upper atmosphere of Saturn has shown that the process put forward to explain the heating actually has a cooling effect.

A broad brush calculation to find the temperature of a planet's upper atmosphere just balances the amount of incident sunlight, with the amount of heat lost to the lower atmosphere. But our solar system's gas giants are consistently hotter than expected.

Theoreticians proposed that the extra heat might be due to the ionosphere, being driven by the planet's magnetic field. This interaction works to heat Earth's atmosphere around the Northern Lights.

But on Saturn, winds driven by energy entering the ionosphere at the poles actually serve to cool the planet's atmosphere, rather than heat it, according to new research published in the 25 January edition of the journal Nature.

One of the study's authors, UCL professor Alan Aylward, says: "The aurora has been studied for over a hundred years, yet our discovery takes us back to first principles. We need to re-examine our basic assumptions about planetary atmospheres and what causes the observed heating." ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.