Scientists have for the first time mapped the entire uranus in the infrared to get a better understanding of the planet's mysterious aurorae.
A research team led by the University of Leicester, UK, during a three-day science campaign, which was broadcast live worldwide last week, used the NASA Infrared Telescope (IRTF) in Hawaii to study The strange ice giants used the solar system, which is 19 times farther from the sun than the earth. Created by the sun) and the planet's magnetic field. But because Uranus is so different from our planet, these aurorae also act very differently from the light from the north and south of the earth.
For example, the axis of Uranus' rotation around itself is almost perpendicular to the sun, and the planet It orbits the sun, causing its poles to face the star directly for about a quarter of a year.
- A good opportunity to observe Uranus Unlike Earth, Jupiter, or Saturn, Uranus' magnetic poles are not aligned with their geographic poles, but are 60 degrees off. Therefore, Uranus' aurorae do not illuminate the sky above the geographic poles and are located in different and strange places.
- Scientists have discovered strange X-rays on the planet Uranus
"Emma Thomas," Ph.D. The North Pole actually extends from the Northern Hemisphere to the equator and even to the Southern Hemisphere. "If you want to map the planet's aurorae, you can't just look at the top, you have to look at the whole surface."
Uranus' strange polar aurorae in the infrared range
Credit: University of Leicester
Divided into three 8-hour time windows over 3 days. They had to determine the timing of each observation window according to the 17-hour rotation period of Uranus. Thus, after combining the data, the result formed the most accurate map of the planet's surface in the infrared. " Uranus itself has an underlying glow in daylight. Any glow above this level is due to either internal heat processes or its aurora borealis. "So by measuring the density of particles above Uranus, we can identify their origin."
Previously, the surface of Uranus was only imaged in the ultraviolet. NASA's Voyager 2 mission briefly passed by the planet in 1986, capturing the first and only collection of close-ups of the surface and its surroundings. In 2011, the Hubble Space Telescope first observed bright aurorae that glow over the planet, each covering a larger area than Earth.
Despite recent research, scientists still have little information about These are the brilliant representations of Uranus and the cause of them. "We have not yet fully understood the magnetosphere of Uranus and how it interacts with the solar wind," said Thomas.Uranus observation in the infrared spectrum
Credit: University of Leicester
Magnetic sphere Is a planet that is affected by its magnetic field. "By mapping these aurorae, we can have a better understanding of the interaction of the solar wind with the magnetic sphere, and thus get a better idea of the orientation of the magnetic lines."
According to a 2017 study, scientists know that the magnetic field on Uranus behaves strangely, and magnetic lines often They are connected in one day. Understanding how aurorae change over the course of a day can provide new insights into the mechanism by which this irregular magnetic field is created. And which side is in the dark, they change. But because Uranus lasts 84 Earth years each year, scientists' knowledge of seasonal changes is slow.
According to Thomas, only one chapter of Uranus is now available and all that has been collected over the next 20 to 40 years. It is very important to fully understand how the planet's aurorae work.
Cover photo: Uranus from the point of view of the Hubble Space
Telescope in 2018 under the OPAL program
Credit: NASA, ESA, AA Simon (NASA Goddard)/M.H. Wong, A.I. Hsu (University of California, Berkeley)