The Sun might be to blame for Neptune’s disappearing clouds

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For the previous several years, researchers have discovered themselves scratching their heads, attempting to figure out why Neptune’s clouds are disappearing. In a newly launched video from NASA Goddard, researchers exposed they might finally have a response. According to the upgrade, the clouds on Neptune appear to vanish in correspondence to changes in the Sun’s solar cycle.

To discover the correspondence, researchers and astronomers looked at recommendation images captured of Neptune by the Hubble Space Telescope that varied from 1994 to 2022. The team discovered in these images that the azure clouds known to pockmark Neptune’s surface seemed to change, even fade at points until they entirely vanished.

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The astronomers then compared that information to the timeline of the Sun’s solar cycle, an 11-year duration in which the Sun’s solar activity slowly increases until it eventually peaks. They found that as the Sun left behind its most active years, the cloud protection on Neptune appeared to disappear, which leads them to believe that the radiation from the Sun could be assisting to foster the reaction in Neptune’s environment.

It’s truly appealing to see the solar radiation and the Sun’s solar cycle play such a big role in how Neptune’s clouds form, especially thinking about how far away from the center of our solar system the planet is. As James Webb and other area telescopes look much deeper into our universe, we’ve also seen images of Neptune that are striking, too, giving the planet much more appeal and mystery.

As astronomers attempt to find out more about the connection in between Neptune and the sun, we’re bound to see more details coming out as the Sun returns towards its solar cycle. In the next few years, however, we need to be able to substantiate much more data to see just how strong that connection is and just how much it might impact other worlds in our solar system, too.

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