Radio Saturn

Saturn seen in radio waves. Image: I. de Pater, J.R. Dickel; NRAO/AUI/NSF
Saturn seen in radio waves. Image: I. de Pater, J.R. Dickel; NRAO/AUI/NSF

This is what Saturn looks like to the Very Large Array or VLA. The VLA “sees” in a part of the spectrum we can’t see – the radio spectrum.

Here’s the NRAO description of the image:

Note the bright disk of the planet with a gradual fading toward the edge, called limb darkening. This illustrates a gradual cooling outward in Saturn’s atmosphere. The rings are seen in emission outside the disk but then in front of the planet they absorb the radiation from the bright disk behind, appearing as a dark band. In visual light they appear bright everywhere because they reflect the incident sunlight but at radio wavelengths the sunlight is fainter and we see the actual emission from Saturn.

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