Swirling winds in Saturn’s atmosphere trigger never-before-seen auroras

Some of Saturn’s auroras may be caused by swirling winds within the planet’s own atmosphere, a previously unknown mechanism of triggering these colorful displays not seen on any other planet before, new research suggests. 

Auroras are usually driven by the interaction of energized particles flowing from the planet’s magnetosphere into its atmosphere. On Earth, auroras are fueled by charged particles from the sun, whereas on Jupiter and Saturn, the charged particles powering auroras come from volcanic eruptions on the planets’ moons, according to a statement from the W. M. Keck Observatory. This new type of aurora observed on Saturn is unique in that it is driven by the atmospheric winds generated by the planet itself.