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Local Astronomer Makes New Saturn Discovery

Posted February 26, 2017, 09:55 AM HST
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Composite of mid-infrared images of Saturn on taken on Jan. 23, 2008 captured by the Subaru Telescope. The Cassini Division and the C ring appear bright. Color differences reflect temperature variations, with blue expressing warmer parts, and red expressing cooler parts. Photo courtesy of Subaru Telescope, NAOJ.

A new finding by Hawaiʻi-based astronomer, Dr. Hideaki Fujiwara of the Subaru Telescope revealed that a portion of Saturn’s rings contrast much differently when viewed in the mid-infrared wavelength spectrum.

Dr. Fujiwara made the discovery by analyzing images taken by a group of astronomers at the Subaru Telescope on Maunakea in January 2008. The images are the highest resolution, ground-based photos of Saturn ever taken, according to Subaru Telescope.

The impressive photos reveal that at the time they were captured, the Cassini Division and the C ring of Saturn were brighter than other rings in the mid-infrared spectrum of light. The brightness contrast appeared opposite to what can be seen in visible light.

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Dr. Fujiwara said the findings bring new insight into the nature of Saturn’s rings. The research was published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol. 599, A29.

“We are going to observe Saturn again in May 2017 and hope to investigate the nature of Saturn’s rings further by taking advantages of observations with space missions and ground-based telescopes,” said Dr. Fujiwara.

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