Wonderful infrared northern lights on Uranus – Futura

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[EN VIDÉO] Uranus, the first planet discovered by the telescope Discover Uranus, an ice giant three billion kilometers away…

The Northern Lights light up in our sky when energetic particles from the sun trapped in Earth’s magnetic field interact with molecules in our atmosphere. And the phenomenon does not only occur on our planet. It has already been observed elsewhere. Even on Uranus.

Hubble observes auroras on Uranus for the first time

In fact, in the mid-1980s, astronomers discovered auroras that glow in the ultraviolet range. Since then, consideration has been given to being able to observe it in the infrared range. Just as they had already done for Jupiter and Saturn. But their search seemed to be in vain.

Infrared Northern Lights hidden for 20 years

“It seems,” because in reality, infrared auroras have long been hiding in the data collected in 2006 by the Nirspec instrument – ​​​​for Near InfraRed SPECtrograph – installed at the Keck Observatory (Hawaii). And astronomers from the University of Leicester (UK) have finally revealed them. They talk about it in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The secrets of Uranus finally revealed?

The discovery goes beyond a simple miracle. It could really help researchers unlock some of the secrets of the distant ice planet. To explain why Uranus is hotter than if it were heated only by the sun’s rays. To decipher the strange magnetic field of the giant planet – tilted to the side and asymmetrical. To understand why Uranus-type planets are so common in our Milky Way. Or to assess whether they could support life.