The composition of the atmosphere of Uranus and Neptune is identical, but the blue color of the planets has 2 completely different shades. And scientists finally figured out why
The two planets are very similar: in terms of mass, Uranus is about 15 times the mass of the Earth, and Neptune is 17 times – with an almost identical composition of the atmosphere of hydrogen (more than 80% of each), helium and methane. Why are the planets so different in shades of blue, scientists finally found out.
We also wrote that the Gaia telescope showed billions of the brightest stars in our galaxy. But now a new study suggests that the “stagnant, sluggish” atmosphere on Uranus is allowing fog to build up and concentrate on the gas giant, making it a “whiter” bluish-blue than sky-blue Neptune.
The new model, which uses wavelengths from ultraviolet to near infrared, explores several atmospheric layers on each of the planets. The study shows that even more haze is hidden in the inner planetary layers of the atmosphere than expected, and not just icy clouds of methane and hydrogen sulfide.
For the first time, the study considered wavelengths from ultraviolet to near infrared rather than concentrating on a few light wavelengths, the authors say. Scientists have previously speculated that Neptune’s methane is what makes this planet so blue, as the gas absorbs a lot of red light and reflects bluer colors.
But scientists struggled to explain what was happening on Uranus, given that it has even more methane (2.3% of the mass of the atmosphere compared to 1.9% on Neptune). Uranus has its own stormy “temperament”: in 2014, for example, there was an impressive sight when the storms on the planet were quite active.
The reasons for this color gap are still poorly understood, but the researchers say that it is the middle layer of each planet that seems to be most responsible for the different shades.