The white spots are enormous bursts of light, and the thin, fleecy ring of Uranus is visible, as well. (Source: NASA)
(RNN) – Solar winds produced shimmering auroras on the planet Uranus that the Hubble telescope captured in a remarkable composite image released by NASA.
The Hubble images were paired with others beamed home by Voyager 2 during its 1986 flyby. Together, the images show the auroras relative to the sparkling, fleecy rings that circle the icy world, seventh from the sun and third largest in the solar system.
Auroras on other planets are much like those on Earth, which appear at the poles and are called the Northern and Southern Lights. They are caused by streams of charged particles like electrons that come from various origins, such as solar winds, the planet’s ionosphere and moon volcanos, NASA explained.
The particles are caught in powerful magnetic fields, soar into the planet’s upper atmosphere and collide with gases – oxygen or nitrogen for example – which sets off spectacular bursts of light.
Researchers determined that the auroras rotate with the planet, which spins on its side with one of its poles facing the sun. Scientists believe that long ago Uranus collided with a planet the size of Earth or with a series of smaller objects.
The new information also helped researchers pinpoint Uranus' magnetic fields, which are hard to establish because the blue planet's surface is frozen, smooth and featureless.
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