(ORDO NEWS) — A team of researchers have found a possible explanation for the difference between the blue hues of Uranus and Neptune.
Planets such as Mars and Jupiter have recently attracted a lot of attention from the astronomical community, but the other two planets have remained undeservedly forgotten – data on Uranus and Neptune are very limited, since special probes were not sent to study them.
Currently, the only information that scientists have was transmitted to Earth from the Voyager spacecraft (“Voyager”)1 and 2 more than 30 years ago, while current data are observations of these planets using ground-based and space-based observatories..
In the new study, scientists set out to get new information about these planets and, in particular, to determine why one of them has a darker blue hue than the other.
The work carried out by the researchers included the collection and analysis of information transmitted from the Voyagers, multiple ground-based observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope (Hubble). They created models that represent the most likely atmospheric conditions on both planets.
These models showed that both planets have approximately the same atmospheric pressure and that both atmospheres contain large amounts of hydrogen sulfide, ice, and photochemical reaction products. The models also showed that the upper atmospheres of both planets have reduced pressure and atmospheric haze.
According to the authors, the haze on both planets is formed by materials in the atmosphere, which are pushed up until their concentration exceeds the condensation point of methane. Germs then form in the atmosphere, which cause flakes to form.
The model also showed that Uranus’s atmosphere is thicker than Neptune’s, and therefore Neptune has a darker blue hue than Uranus – and both planets are blue because methane reflects blue light. The researchers also found that Neptune is not as uniformly colored as previously thought.
They found dark spots, which they believe are areas of increased material density in the upper atmosphere. The researchers conclude that, in addition to gaining new knowledge about Uranus and Neptune, their work can also be used as a platform for studying similar planets orbiting other stars.
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