Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Uranus has a 'new feature' and it's very lovely, Nasa reveals

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f85981%252f120f5e1f 7646 4214 ac05 Uranus has a 'new feature' and it's very beautiful, Nasa reveals
Sandy Nunez | 10 February, 2019, 22:08

Since its launch into orbit in 1990, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has helped astronomers to amass an album of outer planet images.

The Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a new mysterious dark storm on Neptune and provided a fresh look at a long-lived storm circling around the north polar region on Uranus, NASA said.

"These images are part of a scrapbook of Hubble snapshots of Neptune and Uranus that track the weather patterns over time on these distant, cold planets", NASA said.

Near the dark storm now on Neptune, Hubble spotted another atmospheric feature: sparkling white "companion clouds", which scientists have spotted around dark storms in the past.

NASA plans to continue monitoring weather on these frigid, far-off gas giants to better understand the extraterrestrial storms.

The frosty planet can be seen with a massive white cap dominating its northern pole, and as NASA explains in a new blog post its unusual appearance is actually owed to its freaky orientation.

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Two other dark storms were discovered by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989 as it flew by the remote planet, NASA said. That constant sunlight may be affecting the planet's atmosphere, forming what NASA calls a 'polar hood, ' which we see as a mass of frosty white clouds. Seasons on Neptune last for over 40 years, and it's now winter in its northern hemisphere. They are similar to clouds that appear as pancake-shaped features when air is pushed over mountains on Earth. The dark vortex, which spans approximately 6,800 miles, was located next to bright white "companion clouds", which form when the flow of ambient air is diverted upward over the dark vortex and causes gases to freeze into methane ice crystals. Hubble has observed similar clouds accompanying previous vortices. But like Jupiter's famed Great Red Spot, the dark storms seem to dredge up material from deeper levels of the planets' atmospheres.

"The images indicate that the vortices probably develop deeper in Neptune's atmosphere, becoming visible only when the top of the storm reaches higher altitudes", NASA and STScI said in their releases. The giant is sporting a wide white spot across its north pole.

Ice giants Uranus and Neptune have water-rich interiors covered with hydrogen, helium, and methane, the last of which gives these external planets their particular cyan complexion.

Scientists believe this feature is a result of Uranus' unique rotation. It's summer right now for Neptune and Uranus, and has been for years; their seasons are decades-long events.

Unlike the other planets that make up the solar system, Uranus is tilted to the side meaning that during the summer the sun shines on the north pole nearly exclusively, never setting.

NASA explained that the planet is in the middle of summer and because of its weird tilt, the north pole is always facing the sun, never setting. At the equator is another narrow cloud that encircles the planet.