There is a mysterious hexagon on Saturn, swirling at the planet’s north pole that puzzles the scientists as they estimated that the formation is about 180 miles tall. The new findings contradict the previous theory that the weird structure is a lower-atmosphere phenomenon, limited to the gas giant’s cloud in the troposphere.
According to the new study, the Saturn’s hexagon is a jet stream made of air that’s moving at about 200 miles per hour that extends more than 180 miles above the clouds, reaching the stratosphere, especially during the planet’s spring and summer seasons.
The bizarre hexagon on Saturn is a weird formation that encircles a circular vortex situated at the planet’s north pole. NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes were the first to observe the phenomenon during their fly-bys in 1980 and 1981. However, the researchers started to focus more on this mysterious structure in 2004 when the NASA’s Cassini probe explored the second-largest planet in our Solar System.
The mysterious hexagon on Saturn’s northern pole is different from the vortex on the planet’s south pole
“We were able to use the CIRS instrument on NASA’s Cassini to explore the northern stratosphere for the first time from 2014 onwards,” claims the new study’s co-author Sandrine Guerlet from the European Space Agency (ESA). “As the polar vortex became more and more visible, we noticed it had hexagonal edges, and realized that we saw the pre-existing hexagon at much higher altitudes than previously thought,” the researcher added.
Also according to the new research, the emergence of this mysterious hexagon on Saturn would be associated with the warming of temperatures during the first days of spring and summer seasons.
While the northern vortex is 180 miles tall and is hexagonal, the southern one is swirling in the troposphere and is not having any particular form.
“This could mean that there’s a fundamental asymmetry between Saturn’s poles that we’re yet to understand, or it could mean that the north polar vortex was still developing in our last observations and kept doing so after Cassini’s demise,” stated Leigh Fletcher, a researcher at the University of Leicester in England, and the new study’s leading author.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.