Subtitled: Uranus is always full of surprises. Cue the jokes. :)
For the first time, astronomers have detected mysterious X-rays flaring out of Uranus.
How is this happening? According to NASA scientists, Uranus is so massive that it could just be scattering X-rays given off by the sun more than a billion miles away. Or, perhaps the fine rings of dust surrounding Uranus are generating their own radiation through some unknown process. A closer study of Uranus is required to know for sure.
Uranus is cold, windy and made almost entirely of ice and gas. Even though it’s enormous (with a diameter about four times Earth’s), Uranus is difficult to study in depth. Only one spacecraft — NASA’s Voyager 2 — has ever made the perilous journey to the planet, forcing scientists to rely mostly on telescope observations much closer to Earth in order to study the ice giant.
In a new study published March 31 in the journal JGR Space Physics, astronomers looked at some archival observations of Uranus taken by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, an orbiting telescope that scours the universe for sources of X-ray radiation.