Washington: Saturn’s moon Enceladus may be causing periodic bursts of radiation, known as the Saturn kilometric radiation (SKR) in the planet’s magnetosphere.
Scientists have been puzzled by these emissions that occur at a rate that is close to, but not quite the same as, the rate at which the planet rotates.
New observations from the Cassini spacecraft’s flybys of Enceladus in 2008 have revealed new details about the plasma environment around Enceladus and how it may affect Saturn’s magnetosphere.
These observations could also shed some light on the SKR rotation rate.
Enceladus sprays out a plume of water vapour and ice from its south pole.
This plume produces ionised gas that is a significant source of plasma for Saturn's magnetosphere and E ring.
Observations described by Morooka et al. show that the plume also produces negatively charged dust that affects the motion of the plasma in this region. This dust-plasma interaction impacts the dynamics of Saturn’s magnetosphere, possibly influencing the rate of SKR emissions.
The study has been published in Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics.
First Published: Monday, January 02, 2012, 15:02