Written by: Aymen Sherwani – Grade 10
Being the 7th planet away from the Sun, it is not visible to the naked eye, and when first seen with a telescope, William Herschel wanted to name it ‘George’. For those of you who don’t know, we are discussing the sole planet in our solar system which spins on its side. Many believe that Uranus took a “pounding” from colliding with another celestial body, causing it to alter in planetary rotation.
NASA astronomers have recently noticed peculiar spots on the gas giant, which similarly resemble those on Jupiter. Via Keck II telescope, on the surface of these gas giants, these spots merely appear as…well, spots. However, astrophysicists have proven that beyond the exteriors of Uranus, massive methane squalls are raging, and causing havoc. The Hubble Space Telescope observed the planet within multiple wavelengths; examinations concluded that these storms have a range of approximately 9000km. According to Space Magazine, the colors and structure of the storm led professional astronomers believe it could hint at a vortex deeper in the atmosphere — relative to phenomena spotted on Jupiter, such as the Great Red Spot.
Although there are no definite assumptions as to why these extreme weather conditions are occurring on a regularly inactive planet, Dr. Pater, lead researcher and astrophysicist is lead to believe that it simply ate at Taco Bell the other day. This being said, this could be the result as to why Uranus is experiencing“Mexican food after effects”.
Humor aside, Dr. Heidi Hammel, of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy stated that, “this type of activity would have been expected in 2007, when Uranus’ once-every-42 year equinox occurred, and the sun shined directly on the equator. We predicted that such activity would have died down by now. Why we see these incredible storms now is beyond anybody’s guess.”
What baffles Dr. Hammel, along with other astronomers, is the fact that these squalls are occurring as Uranus is farther away from the sun, its only source of heat. Unlike Earth, it has no internalized heat; it is currently uncertain why the area is so very active all of a sudden.
Perhaps one day, astrophysicists will see past the rings of Uranus, and truly understand why it is so very gassy.