A storm wraps around Saturn

The entire universe in blog form
July 6 2011 12:48 PM

A storm wraps around Saturn

Last year, a giant storm erupted in Saturn's northern hemisphere. It grew in size and length as Saturn's mighty winds whipped it around the planet. The Cassini spacecraft took this gorgeous picture of it in late February, when the storm was three months old:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

Saturn doesn't do anything small, does it? [Click to enchronosenate.]

You can see the storm has actually wound entirely around the planet; just below the head on the left you can see light colored clouds that are actually from the tail of the storm that's wrapped all the way around Saturn. Given Saturn's diameter of about 120,000 km (72,000 miles) and the latitude of the storm (call it 45°), this monster system must be well over 300,000 km (180,000 miles) in length! That's three-quarters of the way from the Earth to the Moon.

Yegads.

The storm is blasting out tons of radio noise, a sure sign that lightning must be dancing prodigiously beneath those clouds. The violence and raw power of this storm are amazing to ponder. Note that just the north/south extent of the storm is roughly the size of Earth.

And hmmmm. I guess we don't name storms on other planets as we do on our home world. But if we did, may I suggest... Ouroboros?

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI



Related posts:


TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 23 2014 12:43 PM Occupy Wall Street How can Hillary Clinton be both a limousine liberal and a Saul Alinsky radical?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 1:04 PM Which States Should Secede From the Union?
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon Who Wasn’t
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.