The first X-ray image of Uranus looks like an album cover from the 80s

The first X-ray image of Uranus looks like an album cover from the 80s

The Chandra X-ray Space Observatory has shown Uranus, literally, “in a new light.” Scientists for the first time were able to detect X-rays emanating from the mysterious ice planet.

The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research on Wednesday, focused on two images of the planet taken by the Chandra Observatory in 2002 and 2017. The first shows clear X-rays, and the second shows a possible burst of X-rays from the ice giant, a planet made up mostly of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.

The NASA website notes:

What could have caused Uranus to emit X-rays? Answer: mostly the Sun. Astronomers have noticed that both Jupiter and Saturn scatter X-rays emitted by the Sun, much like the Earth’s atmosphere scatters the Sun’s light. Although the authors of the new study on Uranus initially expected that most of the detected X-rays would also be due to scattering, there are very interesting hints that at least one other source of X-rays is present. If further observations confirm this, the implications for understanding Uranus will be extremely intriguing. “

The Chandra Observatory was launched by NASA’s US Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1999 using the Columbia shuttle.

The first X-ray image of Uranus looks like an album cover from the 80s

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