Friday, November 25, 2011

Uranus Has a Bright New Spot, Picture Shows

Uranus picture: The bright spot of Uranus.
A Hubble picture of Uranus in 2005, shortly before the planet's equinox.
Image courtesy NASA/ESA and M. Showalter, SETI
Rachel Kaufman
Published November 2, 2011
In 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).



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