A recent study conducted by American professor Patrick Irvin has revealed that Uranus and Neptune are much more similar in color than previously believed. While Neptune is known for its blue hue and Uranus for its green, the research has […]
A recent study conducted by American professor Patrick Irvin has revealed that Uranus and Neptune are much more similar in color than previously believed. While Neptune is known for its blue hue and Uranus for its green, the research has shown that both planets have a shade of bluish-green.
The misconception about the colors of these ice giants emerged due to old photographs that had been retouched. Professor Irvin explains that the images of Uranus were close to the planet’s true color, while the photographs of Neptune were enhanced and shifted towards blue.
Using a quantitative model and original data, researchers were able to reconstruct the most accurate representation of color for Neptune and Uranus to date.
The study also addresses the longstanding mystery of why Uranus slightly changes color during its 84-year orbit around the Sun. By comparing images of Uranus with measurements of its brightness, scientists discovered that Uranus appears greener during solstices when one of the planet’s poles is tilted toward the Sun. During equinoxes, when the Sun is above the equator, Uranus appears blue. This is a result of Uranus’ unusual rotation, where the planet essentially spins on its side during its orbit.
Scientists have also found that Uranus appears greener during solstices due to a decrease in methane levels in the polar regions, as well as an increase in the thickness of methane ice particles.
This new study aims to finally dispel misconceptions about the color of Neptune and the unusual color changes of Uranus that have puzzled us for decades. Dr. Heidi Hamill, an expert from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), who has spent decades studying these planets, believes that this comprehensive study can put these questions to rest.