Saturn’s Hexagonal Vortex

Written by on September 18, 2009 in Learning with 0 Comments
Saturn's Hexagonal Vortex

Saturn's Hexagonal Vortex


Embedded within the polar cap of Saturn’s swirling circular clouds and churning convection cells is a very large and very strange geometric vortex.

Like a mystical symbol left behind by an alien civilization, this bizarre structure is unlike anything seen in our solar system. 300 mile per hour winds roil around the distinctive hexagon formation, navigating 60 degree corners as if possessed by a strange force.

First imaged by the Voyager spacecraft over two decades ago, this six-sided anomaly was recently revisited by the Cassini-Huygens mission in 2006 which confirmed its status as a long-lived Saturnian feature.

Besides its peculiar shape, it has been found that the hexagon does not rotate along with the planet but remains in a fixed position, seemingly resisting the churn of the clouds.

cymaticsEventhough  scientists seem to be baffled about what’s going on here, there are some thories going around that it may have to do with ‘Cymatics’. A field of science that studies ‘modal phenomena’ or visible geometries created with sound that propagate through certain types of media. See photo below.

Whatever the cause, it is apparent further experimentation is required.

Crowning the hexagon is a massive aurora. Like Earth, auroras are caused by charged particles from the Sun sweeping across magnetic fields and interacting with the molecules in the upper atmosphere (the same phenomenon that causes fluorescent lamps to glow). But unlike the Earth, Saturn’s aurora can be seen only in infrared and ultraviolet light.

Besides visible light and thermal emissions from the planet, Saturn spouts intense radio signals out the poles. These have been converted into audible formats and are available to listen to online. They eerie noise coming from the planet sounds like ghostly howling and echoey wind sounds very much like what a Halloween sound effects CD would produce. Sure to haunt any listener – take a listen to the WAV file below:

The sound of Saturn

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