There’s Something Strange Going On Inside Neptune


There’s Something Strange Going On Inside Neptune

This gigantic ice-cold planet, though far away from Uranus, both of them have a very close surface temperature. Neptune was discovered in 1977 as a member of the solar system, and Voyager 2 reached there in 1989. It took the images and discovered six moons, but the strong wind was something strange inside Neptune that haunted the astronomers.

The astronomers noticed a fiery anti-clockwise storm in the southern hemisphere, and the velocity recorded a maximum of 1500mph or 2414 kmph, which is the strongest ever. They call it the Great Dark Spot. After five years from then, with the Hubble Space Telescope, they discovered the planet.

There’s Something Strange Going On Inside Neptune
There’s Something Strange Going On Inside Neptune

The Temperature Inside Neptune Is Something Strange

Another observation obtained from Voyager 2 was its temperature. The planet is warmer than Uranus though the distance is longer from the sun compared to Uranus. This is another mystery that remained unresolved.

Before going into further discussion on these two topics, let’s be clear that what is meant by ‘warmer’ here. Unlike the earth, testing the temperature at ground level is not possible as Neptune is a gaseous ball. What we can do is to measure the temperature in altitude.

The Issue Of Getting The Temperature

Michael Wong, the planetary scientist from the University of California, said that we could only measure the outer layer temperature.

If we do that, we will see that Neptune is not hotter, rather both Uranus and Neptune having the same temperature. But logically, this should not be the case as Neptune is farther from the sun, hence gets lesser heat.

Uranus Is Off The Track

The similarity in temperature happens because Neptune emits double the heat that it absorbs, which is unlike Uranus. It is the reason behind the temperature parity.

The emission of temperature is not unique. Jupiter and Saturn also emit heat at a rate close to Neptune.

As you go further from the sun, you will find Jupiter to be the warmest, Saturn second, and then comes Neptune. Uranus is out of place because it does not have any major heat source. So, Uranus cannot warm itself like others mentioned.

There’s Something Strange Going On Inside Neptune
There’s Something Strange Going On Inside Neptune

Researchers Observed Something Strange Inside Neptune

The heat stored inside the planets may not come at a steady rate always; instead, sometimes it comes in burps. Off late, this has been found in Neptune. Convection is probably the cause of the burps. They may happen in long intervals, but we are still not sure about the working principle until we see any burps taking place at our calculated period.

According to Amy Simon, another senior NASA scientist, the older the planet, the colder it will be. Since Uranus is older than Neptune, the temperature of Uranus is lower. The heat-retaining capacity depends on the composition and structure of the planet too. This compositional difference is another reason why we find the temperature of Neptune is unnatural. It is on par with Uranus being further from the sun. Not only the cloud layers but convection also comes into account. Hence to determine the planet’s temperature is an extremely complicated process.

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