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.

  • 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.

  • New superhighway system discovered in the Solar...
    on December 9, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Researchers have discovered a new superhighway network to travel through the Solar System much faster than was previously possible. Such routes can drive comets and asteroids near Jupiter to Neptune's distance in under a decade and to 100 astronomical units in less than a century. They could be used to send spacecraft to the far reaches of our planetary system relatively fast, and to monitor and understand near-Earth objects that might collide with our planet.

  • Data reveals evidence of molecular absorption in...
    on October 26, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    An international team of scientists recently measured the spectrum of the atmosphere of a rare hot Neptune exoplanet, whose discovery by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was announced just last month.

  • New study details atmosphere on 'hot Neptune' 260...
    on October 23, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Astronomers have crunched data from NASA's TESS and Spitzer space telescopes to portray for the first time the atmosphere of a highly unusual kind of exoplanet dubbed a 'hot Neptune.'

  • Surprisingly dense exoplanet challenges planet...
    on August 4, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    New detailed observations reveal a young exoplanet, orbiting a young star in the Hyades cluster, that is unusually dense for its size and age. Weighing in at 25 Earth-masses, and slightly smaller than Neptune, this exoplanet's existence is at odds with the predictions of leading planet formation theories.


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.

  • Dark storm on neptune reverses direction,...
    on December 16, 2020 at 12:26 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.

  • Hubble pins down weird exoplanet with far-flung...
    on December 10, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    A planet in an unlikely orbit around a double star 336 light-years away may offer a clue to a mystery much closer to home: A hypothesized, distant body in our solar system dubbed "Planet Nine."

  • Accessing the arches of chaos in the solar system...
    on December 9, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Space manifolds form the boundaries of dynamic channels to provide fast transport to the innermost and outermost reaches of the solar system. Such features are an important element in spacecraft navigation and mission design, providing a window to the apparently erratic nature of comets and their trajectories. In a new report now published on Science Advances, Nataša Todorović and a team of researchers in Serbia and the U.S. revealed a notable and unexpected ornamental structure of manifolds […]

  • Two young planetary systems detected by TESS
    on December 7, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    Using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers have discovered two new young planetary systems. They found that two stars not older than 320 million years, namely TOI-251 and TOI-942, are orbited by a mini-Neptune planet and two Neptune-sized exoplanets. The finding is reported in a paper published November 26 on arXiv.org.

  • Comet 2019 LD2 (ATLAS) found to be actively...
    on November 27, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    A comet discovered last year is offering scientists new insights into how these objects "turn on" and evolve, as it actually transitions out of the Centaur population and into the Jupiter Family of Comets (JFCs), according to a paper by Planetary Science Institute Research Scientist Jordan Steckloff.