Uranus – Discovery, Formation and How it Appears in a Telescope

If you are passionate about Astronomy and you have just brought a reflective telescope – you might wish to know what see first. On the deep sky journey, the first thing to view and observe is the collection of stars and all the exoplanets. How can we ignore something that we have been studying in our science books since we were children. Uranus has been mistaken as a Star far a very long time. A number of scientists studied its elusive nature. However, the mystery was finally resolved by William Herschel, who discovered Uranus for the very first time through a telescope.

After its discovery, the scientists were able to identify it as a planet – rather than a comet as it was previously speculated.

Formation of the Planet Uranus

The hypothesis State that both Uranus and Neptune formed relatively closer to the Sun. However, they drifted away from it.

The distance of planet from Sun

It is a far off planet from the Sun – on an average distance of 2 billion kilometers. However, the farthest point is a far off planet from the Sun – on an average distance of 2 billion kilometers. However, the most distant point is around 1.8 AU from its closest point between the Sun and the planet itself.

Size of Uranus

Uranus is approximately 14 times heavier than the Earth. Similarly, the diameter is 51.118 kilometers, which is almost four times greater than the Earth. Talking of density, Uranus is the second least dense planet with a density of 1.27 g per cubic centimeters.

Rotation of the Planet

Uranus takes around 84 years to make a complete trip around the Sun. The internal rotation completes in approximately 17 hours.

Structure of Uranus

The standard structure comprises three layers:

  • A Rocky silicate Core
  • An icy mantle in the middle
  • Outer gaseous covering

The icy mantle is not genuinely composed of the ice-but it contains water, ammonia, and other volatile liquids. The too high temperature and pressure caused the carbon atoms to condense. They took the form of diamond crystals.

Uranus does not have a solid, dense surface, and the interior is mostly comprised of fluid. It is considered the coldest planet in the whole solar system. The scientists believe that the heat from Uranus core is not sufficient to reach its surface.

Another theory states that in a massive collision, Uranus might have become depleted of its heat. That is the reason why it is so cold.

The atmosphere of the Planet

Uranus does not have a true solid surface within its interior. However, the outer part is covered within gases – that is usually to as the atmosphere. It is mostly consistent in hydrogen, helium, ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, water, some hydrocarbons, water vapors, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide.

The Atmosphere of Uranus is divided into three different layers:

Troposphere

It has a pressure ranging from 100 to 0.1 bar. It exhibits strong winds, clouds, and seasonal changes since it is the lowest part of Uranus’ atmosphere.

Stratosphere

It ranges from an altitude of 50 to 4000 kilometers, and the pressure stays between 0.1 and 10 bar. The temperature usually rises as we move inside the stratosphere.

Thermosphere

It is the outermost layer of Uranus’ atmosphere and has a uniform temperature of 800 to 850 Kelvin. It extends from 4000 kilometers to 50,000 kilometers in space.

Magnetosphere of Uranus

The Magnetic field of Uranus is unique because of the fact that it does not originate from its center. Thus, it results in an asymmetric magnetosphere. In this way, the southern hemisphere experiences a magnetic field of 0.1 gauss, whereas the northern hemisphere experiences a magnetic field of as high as 1.1 gauss.

A possible hypothesis for this deviation suggests that the liquid diamond ocean inside Uranus interferes with the magnetic field.

The climate of the Planet

The atmosphere and climate are quite bland comparatively. It is probably because the planets lack any heat of its own. However, the Hubble Space Telescope captured an ice giant on the service of Uranus. This led to changes in thoughts of astronomers as to how they see Uranus. Moreover, in 2006, a dark cloud brought a massive storm.

Moons of Uranus

Following the other giant planets, Uranus also has more than one – in fact, many moons! However, the primary 5 are Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, and Oberon. They are tiny, and their masses together would still be less than Neptune’s largest moon.

Miranda

It is spherical in shape, and the landscape is bizarre, with many hard to explain patterns.

Ariel

It is the second smallest moon after Miranda that orbits and rotates in the equatorial plane. It is made from an equal part of rock and ice.

Umbriel

Umbriel mainly consists of ice and a very small percentage of rock. It is shaped by the impacts and has the darkest surface compared to the rest of Uranus’ moons.

Titania

Being the largest moon of Uranus, it contains water ice and frozen carbon dioxide on its surface. It is the 8th largest moon of the Solar System.

Oberon

It is the outermost moon of Uranus – that is, at the most distance from it. Although it does not orbit inside the Uranus magnetosphere, but lies outside to some extent. The surface of Oberon is a bit red and dark in color. It is visible from the Earth through a good reflective telescope.

Planetary Ring Around Uranus

The rings of Uranus, unlike those of Saturn, are not bright. They appeal as dark as coal and are very narrow. Uranus’s most comprehensive ring is 20 to 100 kilometers in width and is called the Epsilon ring.

Chances of Life on the Planet

It is very apparent that the planet is not conducive to life – provided that it does not have an actual surface and lacks any heat of its own. Thus, life on any such planet would not be a good idea to follow.

The Verdict

Since it is far away from the Sun, it is dimly lit. However, through a telescope, you will be able to see a tiny disk with a bluish-green hue. Although it has 27 moons, but unfortunately, all of them are too small to be seen in a small telescope. The Space telescope, such as Hubble and others can better view the surface of Uranus.