Scientists find X-rays coming from Uranus #Breaking112
That’s the mysterious conclusion of a new study, which analyzed two visuals of the planet and discovered X-ray activity for the first time.
Astronomers looked at snapshots of the planet taken by NASA’s Chandra Observatory in 2002 and 2017, noticing a clear detection of X-rays in the first observation and a possible flare in the second.
The most likely cause for most of those X-rays is the sun; it is already known that both Jupiter and Saturn scatter X-ray light given off by the sun, and the research suggests Uranus does the same.
But not all of the activity can be explained, and NASA has called for scientists to look in more detail.
“One possibility is that the rings of Uranus are producing X-rays themselves, which is the case for Saturn’s rings.”
X-rays have been detected in most of the planets in our solar system, but not in the so-called ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, authors wrote.
But studying X-ray emissions can provide valuable insights into a planet’s characteristics, they explained, adding that their findings can give clues about the “atmospheric, surface and planetary ring composition.”
NASA said that Uranus is a particularly intriguing target for X-ray analysis due to the “unusual orientations” of its spin axis and its magnetic field.
A wealth of data on the planet captured in 1986 by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft — the only craft to fly by the planet — is still revealing tantalizing clues about its make-up.