The Blazing Poles Of Blue Saturn

Saturn put on an incredible once-in-a-blue-moon show for the Hubble Space Telescope — Hubble was able to view the planet when its rings were edge-on, so that the planet's twin aurorae, its northern and southern lights, were visible.

According to Hubble press site:

At first glance the light show of Saturn's aurorae appears symmetric at the two poles. However, analysing the new data in greater detail, astronomers have discovered some subtle differences between the northern and southern aurorae, which reveal important information about Saturn's magnetic field. The northern auroral oval is slightly smaller and more intense than the southern one, implying that Saturn's magnetic field is not equally distributed across the planet; it is slightly uneven and stronger in the north than the south. As a result, the electrically charged particles in the north are accelerated to higher energies as they are fired toward the atmosphere than those in the south. This confirms a previous result obtained by the space probe Cassini, in orbit around the ringed planet since 2004.

Click to enlarge, or download your new desktop pattern at the link. [SpaceTelescope.org]