back to article Astronomers (re)discover never-before-seen phenomenon on Saturn

The infall of icy debris from Saturn's rings is heating the planet's upper atmosphere, according to astronomers, who discovered the phenomenon among old data that was once considered noise. Saturn is distinctive in our Solar System with its large, complex ring system, composed of chunks of ice and rock that have been captured …

  1. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Saturn: boulders. Earth: space junk

    I suppose if StarLink and such prevent you from looking at the stars you have to go and look at the data.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Saturn is distinctive in our Solar System with its large, complex ring system, composed of chunks of ice and rock"

    And there was me thinking Jupiter and Uranus had ring systems too

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Neptune too but the key words are "large" and "complex" which only apply to Saturn's rings.

    2. MrDamage Silver badge


      We're part of the Sun's ring system.

  3. Graham Cobb Silver badge


    Hmmm. I don't see the word "boffin" used in this article! Has El Reg capitulated to the criticism of earlier in the week?

  4. spold Silver badge

    Don't get "excited"

    Cutting through the "boffinspeak" (Ack. to previous comments) can this be summarised as the last thing you need up your ring is excess Lyman-alpha radiation?

    1. Francis Boyle


      That's not what Gwyneth Paltrow says.

      1. BartyFartFast

        Re: Curious

        Does Saturn smell like her ring?

  5. Flak

    The questions are the same, but the answers are different

    Einstein apparently said to a university student who observed that the exam questions matched those of the previous year.

    Science is a continuous journey of discovery and we all would do well not to be too dogmatic about what we 'know' now.

    'Current understanding' would better describe scientific knowledge.

  6. ThatOne Silver badge


    > a new way to look for ring systems on exoplanets

    Technically yes, but if those rings are faint enough to prevent actually seeing them, would the radiation of falling debris be noticeable at a distance?... After all, we did actually see Saturn's rings way before we noticed the radiation anomaly.

  7. wub

    How about checking the other solar planets with rings?

    " If a spacecraft detects similar excess UV radiation bands in the upper atmosphere of a faraway planet, it could mean it might be supporting a ring system like Saturn's."

    I am not very well informed about this topic, but it only took a few seconds to verify that Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune all have ring systems - wouldn't one of them make a nice instance to look for the tell-tale increased levels of Lyman-alpha radiation? I expect none of these would produce the same levels as Saturn, but then extra-solar examples would produce much smaller signals, surley?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like