Scientists explain why Uranus and Neptune are colored in different shades of blue

By its mass, composition and other parametersthe planets Uranus and Neptune are almost twins. They are similar to each other even externally - these ice giants are painted in a bluish color and can only be distinguished by their shade. While Uranus appears pale blue in photographs, Neptune, named after the ancient Roman god of the seas and oceans, has a deep blue hue. Over the entire history of observations, scientists have studied almost all the planets of the solar system well. But this couple always remained somewhere on the side - astronomers studied them only in passing, only from time to time allowing spacecraft to fly around them. Because of this, scientists have so far been unable to even clearly explain why one planet has a rich blue hue, while the other is paler. Recently, this mystery has finally been solved.

Neptune on the left and Uranus on the right

According to IFL Science, the planets Uranus andNeptune is really little studied. Since the second half of the 20th century, scientists have managed to send spacecraft to almost all the planets of the solar system and even to some asteroids. And Uranus and Neptune, in turn, received only a few flybys by the Voyager 2 space probe. And this happened a very long time ago - the device reached Uranus in January 1986, and Neptune was studied in August 1989. These planets were photographed using technology from the 70s.

Voyager 2 spacecraft

Read also: Can we send a mission to Uranus or Neptune?

Features of Uranus

Uranus is the fifth planet in the solar system,which is almost entirely ice. Because of this feature, together with Neptune, it belongs to the category of "ice giants". The atmosphere of this planet mainly consists of hydrogen and helium, but, in addition to them, scientists have found traces of methane. The clouds on Uranus are made of ice, as well as solid ammonia and hydrogen. It goes without saying that the ice giant is very cold - according to scientists, its temperature is -224 degrees Celsius. Photographs taken by Voyager 2 do not show signs of storms or other natural phenomena. However, they are visible in the new images, that is, there are seasonal changes and weather phenomena on the planet. The wind speed on Uranus reaches 900 kilometers per hour.

An image of Uranus taken in 1986

Interesting fact: Uranus is the first planet to be discovered with a telescope. This happened in 1781, thanks to the work of astronomer William Herschel.

Features of Neptune

Neptune is the eighth planet in the solar systemwhich is the farthest from the sun. Like Uranus, this ice giant has an atmosphere rich in hydrogen and helium. It also has a huge amount of ice of three different types: water, ammonia and methane. Neptune is a very turbulent place, because the wind speed on it reaches 2160 kilometers per hour. As befits an ice giant, the temperature on it reaches -220 degrees Celsius.

An image of Neptune taken in 1989

Interesting fact: Neptune is the first planet discovered through mathematical calculations. This happened in 1846, thanks to the work of the French mathematician Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier.

Why are Uranus and Neptune blue?

Cause of the blue glow of ice giantsknown for a long time - methane gives them such a shade. The light of any planet in the solar system is reflected. Methane has the property of absorbing light at a wavelength of 600 nanometers, which is in the red part of the spectrum. At the same time, it reflects the blue color without any obstacles.

Pictures of Uranus taken by the Hubble Space Telescope

Scientists have always wondered why Uranus hasa pale shade, while Neptune is a deep blue. To explain this phenomenon, scientists studied data collected by the Voyager 2 spacecraft, the Hubble telescope and ground-based observatories. The answer turned out to be quite simple - the models showed that Uranus has a denser atmosphere than Neptune. Because of this feature, it appears paler to the human eye.

Pictures of Neptune taken by Hubble in 1994

According to one of the authors of the scientific workPatrick Irwin, the planet Uranus has a certain layer of atmosphere, which at the moment is called Aerosol-2. Scientists have not named the reason why Uranus has a denser atmosphere - additional research is needed for this. But even the result is pleasing, because scientists have managed to solve another mystery of the cosmos.

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Finally, I note that recently the Hubble telescope shared new photographs of Uranus and Neptune - you can look at them in this material.