The Neptune It is legendary among astronomers due to its seasons that last for 40 years. What scientists didn’t expect was that their summer would show signs of cooling.
Summer began in the southern part of the planet 17 years ago, and data published on Monday (11) confirm that temperatures have dropped.
“This change was unexpected,” explained Michael Roman, an astronomer at Britain’s University of Leicester, who was responsible for the study.
Scientists know relatively little about Neptune, the eighth planet in the solar system.
It is the farthest planet from the Sun, making its annual orbit to last the equivalent of 165 Earth years.
Telescopes of previous generations were unable to extract the faint light from this stark blue object, which is covered in a thick layer of ammonia, water ice and solid-state methane.
Neptune’s atmosphere is very dynamic, recalls the study published in the Planetary Science Journal.
The winds are the fiercest the solar system has known: more than 2,000 km/h.
Michael Roman explained that the data indicates that with the arrival of the Australian summer in 2005, the planet will begin to warm up.
But the temperature in the southern part of the planet fell by an average of 8 degrees Celsius between 2003 and 2018. The average temperature of the planet is -200 degrees Celsius, which makes measurements difficult.
Only thanks to the sensitivity of infrared images from large telescopes can Neptune be clearly seen, explained Lee Fletcher, co-author of the study and an astronomer at the University of Leicester.
He pointed out that “this technology has been available for twenty years only.”
The observations also revealed another phenomenon, the sudden warming of Neptune’s south pole by about 11°C between 2018 and 2020.
There is no clear explanation for these phenomena, which could be due to the development of chemistry in the stratosphere or to the solar cycles.
The effect of solar differences is also discussed among experts to explain weather changes in Earth.
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