Using new data from the NASA spacecraft, researchers They believe they have solved a long mystery of the solar system: the duration of a day on Saturn, which It turned out to be 10 hours, 33 minutes and 38 seconds.
That It was a mystery for planetary scientists for decadesbecause the giant gas It does not have a solid surface with reference points to follow while running, and has an unusual magnetic field that hides the rotational speed of the planet.
During Cassini's saturnal orbits, the instruments examined the frozen and rocky rings with unprecedented details. Christopher Mankovich, a graduate astronomy and astrophysics student at UC Santa Cruz, He used the data to study the patterns of ondto the internal rings.
His work determined that the rings were Responds to vibrations within the planet itself, acting similarly to the seismometers used to measure the movement caused by earthquakes. Saturn's interior vibrates at frequencies that cause variations in its gravity field. The rings, as well, detect those movements in the field.
"The particles according to the rings They can not help to feel these oscillations in the field of importance"said Mankovich." In specific locations, these oscillations capture the particles of the ring, at the right moment in their orbits, to accumulate energy gradually, and that energy is carried as an observable wave ".
The Mankovich research, published January 17th by Astrophysical Journal, describes how he developed models of Saturn's internal structure which coincided with the rings of the rings. This allowed him to follow the movements of the interior of the planet, and therefore, its rotation.
The rate of change of 10:33:38 that The analysis is a few minutes faster than previous ratings in 1981, which were based on radio signals of NASA's spaceship Voyager.
The analysis of the Voyager data, which He estimated the day was 10:39:23, was based on magnetic field information. Cassini also used magnetic field data, but previous ratings ranged from 10:36 to 10:48.