Astronomers scouring through images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft last year have discovered a fleeting bright spot in one of the seas of Saturn’s moon, Titan.
The intriguing feature, which has been coined “Magic Island,” had never been observed in this sea before and it vanished again some days later.
Although the scientists are uncertain of its identity at the moment, they speculate that it could be a glimpse of dynamic geological processes occurring in the northern hemisphere. The study has been published in Nature Geoscience.
The bright feature was around 12 miles long and 6 miles wide and was located about 6 miles off the southern shore of Ligeia Mare. It was present in one image taken on 10 July, 2013 but it had vanished in a subsequent data set taken on 26 July, 2013. Furthermore, prior to the 10 July observation, Ligeia Mare was as still as a statue and was completely devoid of ripples or waves.
The scientists ruled out that the blob could be due to errors in the imaging equipment. Titan’s northern hemisphere is currently undergoing a transition from spring to summer, which could be responsible for the bright feature. In light of this, the team has proposed four hypotheses that they believe could explain the strange space phenomenon.