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Saturn's rings shadows in Hubble image puzzle astronomers

Saturn's rings shadows in Hubble image puzzle astronomers Photo: Saturn's rings shadows puzzle astronomers in Hubble image (GettyImages)

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of mysterious shadows, known as "spokes," on Saturn's rings, which has continued to puzzle scientists. This phenomenon, observed as ghostly apparitions on the rings, was recently photographed by Hubble, offering a closer look at these enigmatic features, according to CNN.

Hubble's latest images of Saturn, taken on October 22 from 850 million miles away, show the "spokes" at a time when the planet is nearing its autumnal equinox, expected in May 2025.

Researchers, led by Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, are intensively studying these "spokes," which can be larger than Earth in width and diameter.

Saturn's rings shadows in Hubble image puzzle astronomers

Image of Saturn (Photo: Hubble Site)

Hubble's observations are part of a concentrated effort to understand the cause of these "spokes," with theories suggesting they may be related to Saturn's variable magnetic field interacting with the solar wind.

Ring "spokes"

The discovery of Saturn's ring "spokes" dates back to the 1980s with NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft, followed by detailed observations by the Cassini mission in the late 2000s.

The appearance and number of these "spokes" have been noted to change with Saturn's seasons, each lasting about seven years. Researchers believe the planet's magnetic field and the resulting electrically charged environment might lift tiny particles above the rings, creating the "spokes."

The Hubble Space Telescope's ongoing monitoring is expected to provide crucial data to test and confirm this hypothesis, building upon the foundational observations made by Voyager 2 and Cassini.

Also, we recently wrote that NASA has revealed a cluster of young stars resembling a cosmic Christmas tree, located approximately 2,500 light-years from Earth.