The high temperature of the upper atmosphere of Saturn was explained by the influence of auroras. The currents arising in the heat the upper layers more than the models predicted. This is stated in the work of scientists from the University of Arizona, which is published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
According to theoretical models, the upper atmosphere of Saturn should not heat above –123 ° C. However, the data collected by the Voyager probe while flying over the planet showed that the temperature in them is much higher: peak values are at 325°C.
For many years, scientists could not explain the reason for this inaccuracy in the calculations. In a new study, astronomers discovered another factor that was not taken into account in the simulation – currents that occur during auroras.
Based on Cassini data, the researchers created a three-dimensional map of the temperature and density of the atmosphere in different parts of Saturn and at different heights. The work showed that at the latitudes of the 60th northern and southern parallels the auroras are unfolding.
The currents accompanying them, according to the researchers, heat the upper atmosphere of the gas giant to a temperature of 125 to 325°C.