Chandra and Hubble images of Saturn
Credit: NASA/U. Hamburg/J.Ness et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

X-ray Belt

The planet Saturn is one of the most beautiful objects in the night sky. The ringed planet stunning sight in even modest backyard telescopes. The Hubble image of the planet, on the above right, shows exceptional detail, rivaling those taken up close by the Cassini-Huygens mission which is currently on route to Saturn and which will arrive there on July 1, 2004. At X-ray energies (above left, as pictured by the Chandra X-ray Observatory) the planet is not so striking. This is mostly because in both visible light and in X-rays Saturn shines by reflecting the Sun's rays, and the Sun is about a million times brighter in visible light than in X-rays. Nevertheless the X-ray image of Saturn is giving astronomers lots to think about; for one thing, why is Saturn's X-ray emission so different from its neighbor Jupiter?

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:26:05 EDT