Uranus Has a Bright New Spot, Picture Shows
Icy planet may have towering methane cloud, expert says.
Image courtesy NASA/ESA and M. Showalter, SETI
Published November 2, 2011In a surprise to astronomers, Uranus recently presented onlookers with a new spot on its northern hemisphere.
Near-infrared pictures from the 8.1-meter Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii have revealed a region on the giant planet that's much brighter than its surroundings.
The spot is likely a tall methane cloud that reaches high enough for us to see sunlight scattered by its icy particles, said Uranus expert Heidi Hammel, executive vice president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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