Winds On Uranus And Neptune Suggest They Are Static

Uranus and Neptune may have some of the most powerful winds ever recorded, but it turns out you may not even be able to feel them on the surface.

New findings by researchers indicate that the high-speed winds are on a separate layer surrounding the planet.

Both planets have an icy surface of sorts, made up of water, methane, and ammonia. It is unclear whether the planets have a rocky core. Their distance away from the sun, and therefore Earth, make them the most difficult planets to study, since a telescope will do very little.

"This has been an open question for the last 25 years," Yohai Kapsi, planetary scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, said.

The layer of winds is only about 600 miles in height, and only covers a small portion of the planets, measuring 30,000 miles in diameter.

Uranus’ layer hits wind speeds up to 550 miles per hour. By comparison, Earth’s highest wind speed ever recorded was 253 miles per hour.

Then there is Neptune. The winds on that planet reach 1,500 miles per hour. They are considered to be the fastest in our solar system.

The new data was found by Voyager 2, one of the few space probes that goes as far as Neptune, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

What they found was that the layers where the winds are only actually make up about 0.15 percent of Uranus’ mass and 0.2 percent of Neptune’s mass.

The study could help scientists better understand how planets form in the first place.

"When it comes to thinking about the effects of dynamics on planetary formation, we're saying the bottom 90 percent of giant planets is static," Kaspi said.

A Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn and NASA’s Juno probe that will arrive at Jupiter in the near future will be able to analyze the winds of those planets as well.

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