Science

Scientists Say Uranus Really Does Smell Like Rotten Eggs. Here's Why

Scientists Say Uranus Really Does Smell Like Rotten Eggs. Here's Why

The composition of Uranus's clouds, and whether their main component was hydrogen sulphide or ammonia, has always been debated.

The data were obtained with the Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NIFS) instrument on the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii's Mauna Kea summit.

In a study published on Monday, scientists revealed that the atmosphere around Uranus contains a gas that makes the planet smell like rotten eggs - or a fart-like smell.

Only Uranus's northern polar region didn't show strong H2S signals, which could either mean the gas is absent from this region or that tropospheric haze masks its spectrum - a question the scientists hope to explore further. Researchers used the telescope's Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NFIS), first created to image the outsides of black holes in far-off galaxies, to sample reflected sunlight from Uranus' high atmosphere. "Although we knew these lines would be at the edge of detection, I chose to have a crack at looking for them in the Gemini data we had acquired". The sunrays are reflected in the spectral lines.

As it's thought that the planets migrated from where they formed, the latest findings add additional insight on the origin and evolution of Uranus.

Astronomers guessed it was hydrogen sulfide, most well known on Earth for smelling like rotten eggs.




According to the researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology, this alignment would give rise to behaviour that is vastly different from what's seen around Earth.

When the magnetosphere is open, it allows solar wind to flow in.

With the data, the researchers have refined the limits of hydrogen sulfide that likely resides around Uranus.

With this new study, hydrogen sulfide has been detected in amounts as strong as 0.4 - 0.8 parts per million in the tops of the Uranus's cloud deck and less ammonia was found than originally expected, making hydrogen sulfide the main constituent of this portion of the planet's clouds.

Patrick Irvin, the researcher of the study, conveyed, "If an unfortunate human were to descend through Uranus Clouds, They would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions".

The abundance of hydrogen sulphide in the planet's atmosphere is in stark contrast to the composition of the Solar System's inner gas giants- namely, Jupiter and Saturn, notes the report.


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