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Astronomers discover x-rays from Saturn
Posted: Tue, Mar 9, 2004, 11:09 AM ET (1609 GMT)
Saturn seen in x-rays by Chandra (NASA) Astronomers have observed the planet Saturn in x-rays for the first time, leaving astronomers puzzled why the distribution of x-rays is so different from Jupiter. The x-rays, discovered by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, have a spectrum similar to those generated by the Sun, leading astronomers to conclude that Saturn's atmosphere is reflecting solar x-rays. The intensity and distribution of the x-rays has puzzled astronomers: while the intensity near the equator is similar to what is seen on Jupiter, there is far less activity near Saturn's poles, where the planet's magnetic field should generate x-rays in much the same way Jupiter's powerful magnetic field does. Chandra was unable to detect Saturn's extensive ring system, leading astronomers to conclude that for some reason the material in the rings is less efficient at scattering x-rays.
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