A 3-D Model Showed The Device Of A Hexagonal Hurricane At The North Pole Of Saturn
British scientists have created a three-dimensional model of the hexagonal storm on the North pole of Saturn and found that his existence is tied to invisible anticyclones in the deep layers of earth and heat transfer processes within them. The scientists' conclusions were published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The stability of this hexagon over the past 40 years, as well as the data collected by the Cassini probe in the last moments of its life, suggest that the "roots" of this vortex go far into the depths of the planet. We have confirmed that this is actually the case by creating a detailed model of gas flows inside the bowels of Saturn," the scientists write.
At the North pole of Saturn, there is a very unusual structure – a giant hexagon about 30 thousand km across. It is a "perpetual" hurricane, with winds moving at a speed of approximately 322 km/h. It was discovered in the early 1980s when the Voyager 2 probe came close to Saturn.
After the Cassini probe arrived at this gas giant in 2004, scientists had a unique opportunity to observe the changing shape of this hurricane and study its structure for a long time. These observations confirmed that the hexagon really does not change much over time, but they did not help scientists learn the history of its formation.
Harvard planetary scientists, led by Professor Jeremy Bloxham of Harvard University (USA), have found a possible explanation for the existence of this "eternal" polar vortex and its unusual shape, analyzing data collected by the Cassini probe during the final part of its mission.
During it, the device periodically approached Saturn at a minimum distance and received unique data on the structure of its interior. Measurements made by Cassini instruments during these flights indicated that all the strong constant winds on Saturn go deep into the bowels of the planet.
Bloxham and his colleagues tried to reproduce a similar pattern of winds by creating a detailed computer model of Saturn's atmosphere. It took into account the differences in the behavior of different types of vortices inside it and the nature of heat exchange between different layers of the planet's interior.
These calculations showed that the hexagon is actually much more complex than its simple photos from Cassini cameras indicate. It turned out that the shape and constancy of the hurricane were due to the fact that at a great depth it is surrounded by three anticyclones. The gas inside them moves in the direction opposite to the polar funnel itself.
Clearly visible traces of these vortices disappear long before they reach the" surface " of Saturn, but they restrict the movement of the Central vortex at the planet's pole and set its hexagonal shape, affecting the nature of the movement of winds around the North pole of the gas giant.
Interestingly, these calculations predict the existence of another similar vortex structure, which should be located not at the South pole of the planet, but somewhere in the 60th parallel of southern latitude. Something similar "Cassini" actually found back in 2004, studying the vortices of the southern hemisphere of Saturn. This suggests that the model they created is realistic, British planetary scientists conclude.