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Oxford scientists claim that Neptune's color is only slightly darker than Uranus, rejecting the notion of it being a "true blue."

Oxford scientists claim that Neptune’s color is only slightly darker than Uranus, rejecting the notion of it being a “true blue.”

Interior designers adore this hue, but it appears that duck-egg blue is also prevalent throughout our solar system. Recent studies propose that this shade accurately represents the color of Uranus and Neptune.

The latest research disproves the common idea that Neptune appears blue in color. Instead, it suggests that both Neptune and Uranus have a comparable hue, with Neptune being just slightly bluer than Uranus.

According to the study’s lead author, Professor Patrick Irwin from the University of Oxford, while Uranus remains unremarkable and unexciting in appearance, Neptune also appears faded and lackluster in a full true color reconstruction.

For many years, it has been understood that the ice giants’ color is caused by significant amounts of methane in their atmospheres, which absorbs green and red light. Previous studies by Irwin and his team proposed that Neptune appeared slightly bluer than its counterpart due to one of its atmospheric layers being more see-through.

The use of data gathered by the Nasa Voyager 2 probe during flybys in the 1980s to create images has resulted in a misunderstanding of the actual colors of the planets. This is due to Neptune’s pictures being enhanced with contrast, making it appear as a rich blue when in reality it has fainter characteristics.

The researchers state that the images were originally labeled as “enhanced” or “stretched”, but as time passed, these labels became detached from the images, leading to a misconception about the colors of the planets.

Earlier images of the two planets shown in comparison with the reprocessed images

The team’s recent images of the planets display a light blue-green hue, which is consistent across data from various sources, including the Hubble space telescope and the Voyager missions.

The study has also revealed new information about why Uranus appears to have varying colors throughout its seasons. Previous observations have shown that the planet appears greener during its summer and winter, when its poles are facing towards Earth and the sun.

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The team used computer simulations to propose that the lower levels of methane in the polar regions of Uranus are not the only factor contributing to this phenomenon. They also suggest that a layer of frozen methane particles over the sun-facing pole creates a haze that scatters light, resulting in an increase in the reflection of green and red wavelengths.

However, Irwin raised further inquiries regarding the discrepancy of methane levels over Uranus’ poles and the formation of a haze over the warmer pole.

“We have a lot to learn about these planets,” he stated. He suggested that in order to gain more knowledge, both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) should collaborate and launch a spacecraft to study them.

The speaker stated that it is necessary to physically enter orbit and release a probe in order to accurately observe the area, instead of trying to gather information from distant observations.

Source: theguardian.com