A puzzling phenomenon… Saturn's rings have puzzled scientists for over 40 years.

  • A puzzling phenomenon... Saturn's rings have puzzled scientists for over 40 years.
    Rings of Saturn

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the latest image of Saturn's rings revealing mysterious shadows, marking the latest observation of a strange phenomenon known as “spokes” that continues to baffle scientists.

At first glance, Saturn's image may look like an old snapshot. But this composite image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on Oct. 22, 2023, and, more importantly, captured the most interesting details when Saturn was about 1.37 billion kilometers (850 million miles) away, according to the US space agency.

The space telescope has been orbiting the Earth for over 3 decades and has provided valuable information.

Scientists have long known about the phenomenon of mysterious “radial bars” in Saturn's rings. These strange features resemble ghosts gliding along the rings and can be seen at different locations depending on Saturn's position in its orbital cycle.

If you look closely at the dense white inner band of Saturn's rings, you'll see mysterious patterns, with Earth-sized features that appear to rotate with the rings. But ultimately, scientists don't know what it is.

“Radial bars” can only be seen for two or three orbits around a planet before they disappear, meaning catching them when they appear has historically been a difficult task. It was first observed by Voyager 2 in 1981, and then again several times during the Cassini mission that orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017. Now, Hubble is observing this unusual feature as part of the Exoplanet Legacy Program (OPAL). The weather of the gas giants in our solar system.

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