Scientists discover why Neptune and Uranus have different colors despite similarities | Science & Technology News

Scientists have explained why Neptune and Uranus have different colors despite having many things in common.

The two planets furthest from the Sun have similar masses, sizes and atmospheric compositions, but Neptune is much bluer than its neighbours.

A new Oxford University study has suggested the reason for this is a layer of haze on both planets.

Their appearance would have been identical without this haze, said lead author Professor Patrick Irwin.

Using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s infrared telescope facility, and the Gemini North Telescope, the researchers developed a model to describe the layers of aerosols in the atmosphere. of both planets.

The model involves three layers of haze at different heights.

On Uranus, the middle layer of haze is thicker than on Neptune, affecting visible color.

The scientists also said that methane ice condenses in the middle layers of both planets, forming a methane slush that pulls the smog particles deeper into the atmosphere.

Neptune has a more vibrant and turbulent atmosphere, suggesting it is more efficient at producing snow, removing more haze and keeping Neptune’s middle layer thinner.

As a result, Neptune appears bluer, while excess haze on Uranus builds up in a sluggish atmosphere and causes a lighter shade.

The model also shows the presence of a second, deeper layer.

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When it gets dark, this causes dark spots on Neptune, such as the famous Sunspot GDS-89.

“This is the first model to simultaneously match observations of reflected sunlight from ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths,” said Professor Irwin.

According to co-researcher, Dr Mike Wong from the University of California, explains the color difference between the planets as an “unexpected bonus” of the model.

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