An enduring rapidly moving storm as a guide to Saturn’s Equatorial jet’s complex structure

A. Sanchez-Lavega, E. Garcıa-Melendo, S. Perez-Hoyos, R. Hueso, M.H. Wong, A Simon, J.F. Sanz-Requena, A. Antunano, N. Barrado-Izagirre, I. Garate-Lopez, J.F. Rojas, T. del Rıo-Gaztelurrutia, J.M. Gomez-Forrellad, Imke de Pater, L Li, T. Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Saturn has an intense and broad eastward equatorial jet with a complex three-dimensional structure mixed with time variability. The equatorial region experiences strong seasonal insolation variations enhanced by ring shadowing, and three of the six known giant planetary-scale storms have developed in it. These factors make Saturn’s equator a natural laboratory to test models of jets in giant planets. Here we report on a bright equatorial atmospheric feature imaged in 2015 that moved steadily at a high speed of 450 ms 1 not measured since 1980–1981 with other equatorial clouds moving within an ample range of velocities. Radiative transfer models show that these motions occur at three altitude levels within the upper haze and clouds. We find that the peak of the jet (latitudes 10 N to 10 S) suffers intense vertical shears reaching þ2.5 ms 1 km 1, two orders of magnitude higher than meridional shears, and temporal variability above 1 bar altitude level.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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