Portal:Uranus

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Uranus

A photo of Uranus taken by Voyager 2.

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun; it is the third largest and fourth most massive planet in the solar system. Uranus was the first planet discovered in modern times. Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognised as a planet by ancient observers due to its dimness. Sir William Herschel announced its discovery on March 13, 1781, expanding the known boundaries of the solar system. Uranus' atmosphere, although similar to Jupiter and Saturn in being composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, contains a higher proportion of "ices" such as water, ammonia and methane, along with the usual traces of hydrocarbons. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system, with a minimum temperature of 49 K, and has a complex layered cloud structure in which water is thought to make up the lowest clouds, while methane makes up the uppermost layer of clouds. In 1986, images from the Voyager 2 space probe showed Uranus as a virtually featureless planet in visible light without the cloud bands or storms associated with the other giants. The wind speeds on Uranus can reach 250 m/s (560 mph).

More about...Uranus: its history, rings, atmosphere, climate, moons, and its exploration


Selected article

Ariel as seen by Voyager 2 in 1986
Ariel /ˈɛəriəl/ is the brightest and fourth-largest of the 27 known moons of Uranus. Discovered on 24 October 1851 by William Lassell, it is named for a sky spirit in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock and Shakespeare's The Tempest. Like its parent planet, Ariel orbits on its side, granting it an extreme seasonal cycle. As of 2011, almost all knowledge of Ariel derives from a single flyby of Uranus performed by the spacecraft Voyager 2 in 1986. Ariel is the second-smallest of Uranus's five round satellites, and the second-closest to its planet. It is believed to be composed of roughly equal parts ice and rocky material. Like all of Uranus's moons, Ariel probably formed from an accretion disk that surrounded the planet shortly after its formation, and, like other large moons, it is likely differentiated, with an inner core of rock surrounded by a mantle of ice. Ariel has a complex surface comprising extensive cratered terrain cross-cut by a system of scarps, canyons and ridges. The surface shows signs of more recent geological activity than other Uranian moons, most likely due to tidal heating.

Selected biography

William Herschel
Sir Frederick William Herschel, KH, FRS, German: Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel, (15 November 1738 – 25 August 1822) was a German-born English astronomer, technical expert and composer who became famous for discovering Uranus and its two satellites. He also discovered infrared radiation, devised the first model of the Milky Way galaxy and made many other discoveries in astronomy.

Topics

Uranus Atmosphere ˑ Climate ˑ Exploration (Voyager 2) ˑ Rings

Moons (Portia ˑ Puck ˑ Miranda ˑ Ariel ˑ Umbriel ˑ Titania ˑ Oberon ˑ Caliban ˑ Sycorax)

Astronomers: William Herschel ˑ William Lassell ˑ Gerard Kuiper ˑ James L. Elliot

See Also: Formation and evolution of the Solar System ˑ Gas Giant ˑ Nebular hypothesis

Bold articles are featured.
Italicized articles are on dwarf planets or major moons.


Selected picture

Image of Uranus by Voyager 2.
Credit: NASA/JPL

A false color image of Uranus obtained by Voyager 2 spacecraft in January 2006.

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