content long 25-September-2018 10:40:54

Winners Norway

13-15 years old: The hexagon at Saturn's north pole

 Author: Christian Balk

The first thing that comes to mind is that there is something about Saturn’s topography that effects the airstreams around the north pole, but the fact that Saturn is a gas planet cancels out most of that theory. But there is still a possibility that something under the layer of gas making the hexagon. Or perhaps it’s pure physics, created by all the minor vortices.

Repelling gas

My theory is that the streams of liquids under the surface might have something to do with this irregularity. It would have to be a liquid with a very low boiling point. It’s not a particularly heavy liquid, since it’s latitude is so high. When it turns into gas form it works as a kind of wall between the hurricane and the rest of Saturn. My guess it is the dense metallic hydrogen. If it could by any means turn into a liquid it would still conduct heat well, and therefore it could easily move upwards in the atmosphere. When it reaches the surface, it would condense into a liquid and fall back under the clouds, and then start the cycle all over again. Another way would be if normal hydrogen constantly got pushed upward, and because of the planets rotation, pushed north (or south). Because of the hurricane at the pole the hydrogen would be pushed south, and by that it would get stuck in between the equator and the hurricane. This would create a field of hydrogen that is so dense that it manages to separate heavier gases in the north and the south (1). Now that would result in a round field, but what we need is a hexagonal field. I can only theorize, but the easiest explanation would be that the minor vortices interfering with the big hurricane making areas with higher density because of the air moving more slowly. if you have a dam, and beneath the dam was a little river, what would happen if you were to open the floodgates? Two things, ether the river would go faster, or it would widen. In Saturn’s case the areas of higher density have widened. The fact that it turned into a hexagon might have been random, but a more feasible explanation would be that the hurricane in the middle split up into smaller streams with high density forming large tornado’s that have since dissipated (except for one). Another feasible theory is that denser areas lye further from the edge, closer to the hurricane. These areas are so dense that they push the stream around themselves. If there were six areas, and they were lying close enough to the hurricane, the curve of the stream would slide into the other areas radius, thus making the air current go in a hexagonal pattern.

Last Update: 19 May 2017

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