Release 829 of 1,092

Hubble Provides Clear Images of Saturn's Aurora

Release date: Jan 7, 1998 12:00 AM (EST)
Release type: American Astronomical Society Meeting

Here is the picture of Saturn taken by the Hubble telescope in ultraviolet light. The glowing, swirling material at Saturn's poles is its auroral "curtains," rising more than a thousand miles above the cloud tops.

Saturn's auroral displays are caused by an energetic wind from the Sun that sweeps over the planet, much like Earth's aurora, which is occasionally seen in the nighttime sky. The process that triggers these auroras is similar to the phenomenon that causes fluorescent lamps to glow.