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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


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.

  • Evidence of Planet Nine diminishing as...
    on February 17, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    An international team of researchers has found no evidence of trans-Neptunian object clustering as part of an effort to refute the idea of the existence of Planet Nine. The group has written a paper describing their findings and have uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server.

  • THYME project discovers a sub-Neptune exoplanet...
    on February 17, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    Astronomers report the discovery of a new sub-Neptune exoplanet as part of the TESS Hunt for Young and Maturing Exoplanets (THYME) program. The newly found alien world, designated HD 110082 b, is about three times larger than the Earth and orbits a relatively young star. The finding is reported in a paper published February 11 on arXiv.org.

  • A new way of forming planets
    on February 11, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    In the last 25 years, scientists have discovered over 4000 planets beyond the borders of our solar system. From relatively small rock and water worlds to blisteringly hot gas giants, the planets display a remarkable variety. This variety is not unexpected. The sophisticated computer models, with which scientists study the formation of planets, also spawn very different planets. What the models have more difficulty to explain is the observed mass distribution of the planets discovered around […]

  • Astronomers confirm orbit of most distant object...
    on February 10, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    A team of astronomers, including associate professor Chad Trujillo of Northern Arizona University's Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, have confirmed a planetoid that is almost four times farther from the Sun than Pluto, making it the most distant object ever observed in our solar system. The planetoid, which has been nicknamed "Farfarout," was first detected in 2018, and the team has now collected enough observations to pin down its orbit. The Minor Planet Center has now given it […]

  • Astronomers uncover mysterious origins of...
    on February 10, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    Mini-Neptunes and super-Earths up to four times the size of our own are the most common exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system. Until now, super-Earths were thought to be the rocky cores of mini-Neptunes whose gassy atmospheres were blown away. In a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, astronomers from McGill University show that some of these exoplanets never had gaseous atmospheres to begin with, shedding new light on their mysterious origins.