For The First Time, Scientists Have Discovered X-Rays Coming From Uranus

For The First Time, Scientists Have Discovered X-Rays Coming From Uranus

The new discovery is based on observations taken using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a space telescope in orbit.

You will not believe how literally every planet in the solar system has its overtly unique characteristics. This is even present in the outer rim planets, Uranus, Neptune, and well... Pluto too, just for kicks. Uranus is a masterpiece, without a doubt, and its sideways declination speaks for itself. It is at such an angle that its rotational axis is basically parallel to its orbital plane. Around 20 years ago, astronomers had focused their instruments in an attempt to capture X-ray emissions coming from Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, Science Alert reports. 



Scientists are now detecting actual X-rays emanating from the Solar System's oddest ball. This being said, it's still quite unsure of where exactly they are coming from, or what it could possibly mean. It's not easy to make observations on and discoveries about Uranus and Neptune specifically. These two planets are so far away that very few probes have ever gone near their dark and frigid space. Another thing about the planet that sets it off just might be its smell though. There's a lot of gas leaking everywhere, and its magnetic field is in complete chaos. Oh, and it also has the kind of rings that are quite different from any other you would find in the Solar System. 



Usually, all it takes is the good ol' telescope to get a good look at these planets. There are now telescopes that are optimized for looking at things further away than even Uranus or Neptune, yet the details can tend to get hazy. Regarding the recent discovery, the observations were made using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, carrying a space telescope in orbit around Earth. It was quite a while back, in 2002, when the first set of observations were taken. However, two more sets were observed in 2017, by a team of astrophysicists led by William Dunn of University College London in the UK.



The researchers had gotten around to studying the 2002 observation data in detail, and found very substantial evidence of X-rays from Uranus. It wasn't strange to note that Uranus emitted X-rays as the radiation has been picked up from all sorts of solar system bodies from comets to planets to even some of Jupiter's moons. "One of the many factors that make Uranus an interesting target is the configuration of its magnetosphere," the team's research paper stated. 



There are no coherent explanations made as of yet, but it has a lot to do with radiation belt studies and the X-rays themselves. There is also the suggestion of the aurora phenomenon at play. These energetic light particles interact in a similar manner with a planetary atmosphere. On Earth, you may have seen the wonderful aurora 'northern' lights in all their dazzling glory, at least in photograph or video. The research team stated that longer Chandra observations in the future would help scientists map the locations of the X-ray emissions across Uranus. Several international space programs would also be interested in getting in on this and providing a better explanation for the same. 


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