An observation that can help scientists learn more about Uranus, astronomers have, for the first time, observed X-rays from this riddle on an ice-giant planet in our solar system. Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun and has two sets of rings around its equator. A planet four times the diameter of the Earth rotates on its side, making it different from all other planets in the solar system. Because Voyager 2 was the only spacecraft to ever fly through Uranus, astronomers currently rely on telescopes much closer to Earth, such as the Chandra and Hubble Space Telescopes, to learn about this distant and cold planet made up almost entirely of hydrogen and helium.
In a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, researchers used Chandra observations made in Uranus in 2002 and then in 2017. They saw a clear X-ray detection from the first analysis recently analyzed and a possible reflection of the X-rays obtained 15 years later. But what can make Uranus send X-rays? Answer: mainly the sun. Astronomers have found that both Jupiter and Saturn scatter X-rays emitted by the sun in the same way that the Earth’s atmosphere scatters sunlight.
The authors of the new uranium study originally expected that most of the X-rays observed would also be due to scattering, but there are enchanting indications that at least one other X-ray source is present. If other findings confirm this, it can have fascinating effects on Uranus ’understanding. One possibility is that the rings of Uranus themselves produce X-rays, which is true of the rings of Saturn.