Phenomena

Titan’s Vortex

The timelapse animation above shows a swirling vortex above the south pole of Saturn’s moon Titan. It completes a full rotation in about nine hours, significantly quicker than the 16-day rotation of the moon. The vortex appears to demonstrate open cell convection, in which air sinks at the center of the cell and and rises at the edges to form clouds along the cell edges.  For the most part the dense haze of Titan’s atmosphere prevents scientists from seeing what goes on beneath the clouds, but Titan is thought to have weather cycles similar to Earth’s, except featuring methane rather than water. (Photo credit: NASA, Cassini; submitted by Adam L)

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