The planet Uranus has an unfortunate name, originally named after the Greek god of the sky, Ouranos, scores of children and adults mocked it for centuries.
However, it turns out maybe the name is very appropriate because new studies have discovered the gasses emitted from the seventh planet closet to the sun actually smells like farts.
A study from astronomers have deduced Uranus’s upper atmosphere is covered in hydrogen sulfide, a molecule which emits a rotten egg smell and is usually found in human flatulence.
Now before we get to the heart of the matter, Uranus is pronounced ‘Ur-an-us’, not ‘Your anus’ – it’s time we grew up people. I remember in secondary school when I asked my science teacher who Uranus was named after, his response: ‘Your mum’.
But I digress, the planet has been ridiculed because of its namesake; if Uranus was a student and the galaxy was a school the other planets in its form class would be picking on it mercilessly, and with good reason – it smells like farts.
According to Nature Astronomy, the observations of hydrogen sulfide have a massive effect beyond Uranus.
IFLScience! says it not only does it expand what we know about the ice-covered planet’s structure and composition but it also means we might have a better idea of how the solar system itself came into existence.
While the composition of the highest clouds on Uranus has remained unidentified planetary scientists could still detect hints of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, but nothing could be determined due to the lack of evidence. Many guessed it was hydrogen sulfide which was responsible for the extra haze seen in radio and microwave observations.
They also suspected the top clouds appeared incorrect if ammonia was the dominant component. Unfortunately, scientists lacked any concrete evidence, but the new observations have changed the current outlook.
Speaking to IFLscience lead author Professor Patrick Irwin, from the University of Oxford said:
We have definitely detected the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas above the main cloud deck, and this is the smoking gun that the main cloud deck is mostly made by hydrogen sulfide ice.
We finally have a more definite detection of what the clouds are made of. This means that on Uranus, and we think probably on Neptune, the bulk abundance of sulfur is greater than that of nitrogen. On Jupiter and Saturn, you end up with an ammonia cloud layer at the top.
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This discovery places great questions on how our solar system was formed, both Uranus and Neptune are located far from the sun (18 times Earth’s distance). Considering their position both ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are solids, so theoretically they can eat/absorb nearby planets with ease.
While these findings were made over a decade ago researchers lacked a sophisticated spectral analysis of hydrogen sulfide. Once the technological capability became available the researchers were able to go back to their findings to search for any significant patterns and/or signatures to prove the data was correct.
Still I believe whoever smelt it dealt it.
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