Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Ionospheric vortices could explain Saturn's anomalous magnetic field



Thought to be produced by convection deep within the planet's interior, Saturn's magnetic field stands out among those of the solar system's gas giants in that it has a relatively simple structure and that it is nearly perfectly symmetrical about the planet's rotation axis. However, researchers have noticed some recurring anomalies: periodic changes in plasma density, magnetic field, energetic particle populations, emitted radiation, plasma sheet properties, and others. Analyzing these periodic shifts more closely, researchers noticed that the recurrence interval of the anomalies was different for the planet's northern and southern hemispheres. Further, they noted that the period of the variations themselves can change with time, at a rate of roughly 1% per year.