Neptune

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Neptune : the planet eighth in order from the sun — Webster

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Neptune is the eighth and farthest known planet from the Sun in the Solar System. In the Solar System, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter, the third-most-massive planet, and the densest giant planet. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times the mass of Earth and slightly larger than Neptune. Neptune orbits the Sun once every 164.8 years at an average distance of 30.1 astronomical units (4.50×109 km). It is named after the Roman god of the sea and has the astronomical symbol ♆, a stylised version of the god Neptune’s trident.

Neptune is not visible to the unaided eye and is the only planet in the Solar System found by mathematical prediction rather than by empirical observation. Unexpected changes in the orbit of Uranus led Alexis Bouvard to deduce that its orbit was subject to gravitational perturbation by an unknown planet. Neptune was subsequently observed with a telescope on 23 September 1846 by Johann Galle within a degree of the position predicted by Urbain Le Verrier. Its largest moon, Triton, was discovered shortly thereafter, though none of the planet’s remaining known 14 moons were located telescopically until the 20th century. The planet’s distance from Earth gives it a very small apparent size, making it challenging to study with Earth-based telescopes. Neptune was visited by Voyager 2, when it flew by the planet on 25 August 1989. The advent of the Hubble Space Telescope and large ground-based telescopes with adaptive optics has recently allowed for additional detailed observations from afar.

Neptune’s composition can be compared and contrasted with the Solar System’s other giant planets. Like Jupiter and Saturn, Neptune’s atmosphere is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, along with traces of hydrocarbons and possibly nitrogen, but it contains a higher proportion of “ices” such as water, ammonia, and methane. However, its interior, like that of Uranus, is primarily composed of ices and rock, which is why Uranus and Neptune are normally considered “ice giants” to emphasise this distinction. Traces of methane in the outermost regions in part account for the planet’s blue appearance.

In contrast to the hazy, relatively featureless atmosphere of Uranus, Neptune’s atmosphere has active and visible weather patterns. For example, at the time of the Voyager 2 flyby in 1989, the planet’s southern hemisphere had a Great Dark Spot comparable to the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. These weather patterns are driven by the strongest sustained winds of any planet in the Solar System, with recorded wind speeds as high as 2,100 kilometres per hour (580 m/s; 1,300 mph). Because of its great distance from the Sun, Neptune’s outer atmosphere is one of the coldest places in the Solar System, with temperatures at its cloud tops approaching 55 K (−218 °C). Temperatures at the planet’s center are approximately 5,400 K (5,100 °C). Neptune has a faint and fragmented ring system (labelled “arcs”), which was first detected during the 1960s and confirmed by Voyager 2. — Wikipedia

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Neptune News -- ScienceDaily Planet Neptune News. Read astronomy articles on Neptune's oddball moon Triton. See images of Neptune and more.

  • Distant planet may be on its second atmosphere
    on March 11, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    Scientists have found evidence that a planet orbiting a distant star may have lost its atmosphere but gained a second one through volcanic activity.

  • On the quest for other Earths
    on February 17, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    An international research team has developed a new method for directly imaging smaller planets in the habitable zone of a neighboring star system. This opens up new possibilities in the search for extraterrestrial life.

  • Astronomers confirm solar system’s most distant...
    on February 10, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    Astronomers have confirmed that a faint object discovered in 2018 and nicknamed 'Farfarout' is indeed the most distant object yet found in our Solar System. The object has just received its designation from the International Astronomical Union.

  • Saturn's tilt caused by its moons, researchers say
    on January 21, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    Scientists have just shown that the influence of Saturn's satellites can explain the tilt of the rotation axis of the gas giant. Their work also predicts that the tilt will increase even further over the next few billion years.

  • Dark storm on Neptune reverses direction,...
    on December 16, 2020 at 11:36 pm

    Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope watched a mysterious dark vortex on Neptune abruptly steer away from a likely death on the giant blue planet.


Phys.org - latest science and technology news stories Phys.org internet news portal provides the latest news on science including: Physics, Nanotechnology, Life Sciences, Space Science, Earth Science, Environment, Health and Medicine.

  • Scientists may detect signs of extraterrestrial...
    on April 16, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    Research shows that a new telescope could detect a potential signature of life on other planets in as little as 60 hours.

  • Researchers identify five double star systems...
    on April 15, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Almost half a century ago the creators of Star Wars imagined a life-sustaining planet, Tatooine, orbiting a pair of stars. Now, 44 years later, scientists have found new evidence that that five known systems with multiple stars, Kepler-34, -35, -38, -64 and -413, are possible candidates for supporting life. A newly developed mathematical framework allowed researchers at New York University Abu Dhabi and the University of Washington to show that those systems—between 2764 and 5933 light years […]

  • NASA's Roman mission predicted to find 100,000...
    on April 1, 2021 at 11:50 am

    NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will create enormous cosmic panoramas, helping us answer questions about the evolution of our universe. Astronomers also expect the mission to find thousands of planets using two different techniques as it surveys a wide range of stars in the Milky Way.

  • Two strange planets: Neptune and Uranus remain...
    on March 31, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    Uranus and Neptune both have a completely skewed magnetic field, perhaps due to the planets' special inner structures. But new experiments by ETH Zurich researchers now show that the mystery remains unsolved.

  • Many planetary systems prematurely evaporate into...
    on March 29, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    When stars are born, large clouds of gas and dust form that are known as circumstellar discs. Research by Ph.D. candidate Francisca Concha-Ramírez shows that strong radiation from neighboring stars soon evaporates the dust in these discs, which can prevent planet formation at an early stage. Ph.D. defence on 6 April.