Scientists Decode Mystery behind Strange 'Tiger Stripes' Erupting on Saturn's Icy Moon

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Scientists have now explained the reason behind the tiger stripes on Enceladus.

Enceladus is that moon of Saturn, which hides a liquid ocean under its icy shell. As per a research published in Nature Astronomy, a team of researchers from UC Berkeley, UC Davis and the Carnegie Institution for Science, examined Enceladus' icy scars using mathematical models to determine the physical forces allowing the unusual stripes to form, said a report published in Cnet.

The research published in Nature Astronomy stated, “Here we propose that secular cooling, which leads to a thickening of the ice shell and building of global tensile stresses causes the first fracture to form at one of the poles, where the ice shell is thinnest owing to tidal heating. The tensile stresses are thereby relieved, preventing a similar failure at the opposite pole.

“The steadily erupting water ice loads the flanks of the open fissure, causing bending in the surrounding elastic plate and further tensile failure in bands parallel to the first fracture—a process that may be unique to Enceladus, where the gravity is too weak for compressive stresses to prevent fracture propagation through the thin ice shell,” the research added.

One of the lead authors of the research paper, Doug Hemingway, astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science told Cnet, “These stripes are like nothing else known in our solar system. No other icy planets or moons have anything quite like them. Our modeling of the physical effects experienced by the moon's icy shell points to a potentially unique sequence of events and processes that could allow for these distinctive stripes to exist.”