Saturday December 16, 2017
Are there rainbows in deep space?
more stories from this episode
- Making eye contact with your baby can synchronize your brainwaves
- Scientists one up Spider-Man by feeding spiders an atomic super liquid
- Trump vows that the U.S. will go back to the moon, but how?
- The Grinch's growing heart and Rudolph's red nose explained by science
- Coal mining left entire populations psychologically damaged and the impact continues today
- Parasite turns mice into mindless cat-fighting zombies by hijacking immune cells
- Are there rainbows in deep space?
- Full Episode
This week's question comes from Tyson Nordal from New Westminster, B.C, who asks, "If I were floating in space by Saturn's moon Enceladus and caught the sun's light through the geysers that Enceladus sprays up into space, would I be treated to a space rainbow?"
Dr. Mohamad Ali-Dib, an astrophysicist from the University of Toronto, says there's almost a constant eruption of water geysers coming from Saturn's moon Enceladus. Since Saturn is about ten times as far from the sun as Earth, it's much colder out there, so the water vapour erupting from the moon's surface would freeze very quickly into ice crystals. Ice crystals behave differently than water vapour droplets that can create a multicolour rainbow here on Earth. Water ice crystals will instead create a single colour yellowish or white rainbow, otherwise known as a sun dog. We can see such sun dogs here on Earth in very cold temperatures, but due the distance between Saturn and the sun, any sun dog coming from Enceladus would be much fainter than anything seen here. Dr. Ali-Dib says you'd have to be floating fairly close to the surface Enceladus to witness it.