The entire field of astronomy has to deal with the fact that one planet’s name sounds like a funny, albeit immature, joke. That this planet is one of 4 considered a “Gas Giant” is also a humorous but totally juvenile comedic fact.
We’re talking, of course, about Uranus.
Many children who learn of this planet’s name in school are no doubt filled with questions such as “Did adults name this planet?”, “Do they not know what that sounds like?”, and “How am I supposed to take the rest of this class seriously?” Much like Santa Claus, learning about Uranus can cause many children to question what adults are telling them altogether.
Some Uranus jokes are based on facts.
The thing about Uranus is, it can smell unpleasant. There is a large amount of hydrogen sulfide stored up in Uranus and if someone’s nose catches a whiff of this unpleasant gas, it can be rather off-putting. This has now been confirmed by science.
Researchers from the University of Oxford recently published a paper in Nature Astronomy looking at the atmospheric content of Uranus. As it turns out, the atmospheric content located on Uranus is sometimes very similar to the atmospheric content located in your an- You know what?
We’re going to take the high road on this one and just move on.
Atmospheric content on Uranus.
The team of researchers discovered that the clouds on Uranus contain hydrogen sulfide, the very same gas which makes human flatulence smell like rotten eggs.
“If [a person] could survive the fall down to Uranus, they’d smell a horrible smell of rotten eggs,” said the study’s lead author Patrick Irwin.
“I’m not sure anyone’s really looked to see what the human nose would do in a hydrogen-helium atmosphere with a bit of hydrogen sulphide, but I imagine that you would still smell this pungent aroma.”
Scientists and immature people had already assumed this was the case.
Scientists had already theorized that Uranus was filled with rotten-egg smelling gas but this latest study proved it.
“We thought it was probably there,” Irwin continued.
“But we’ve never actually been able to absolutely say for certain that it really is until these new measurements we’ve just made, where we can actually see the fingerprints of hydrogen sulphide above the clouds.”
Study helps determine the origin of planets.
In addition to contributing to silly fart-themed humor, the study also helped contribute to the growing body of knowledge regarding how planets in our solar system formed.
The study also looked at the compositional difference of the 4 gas giant planets: Uranus, Neptune, Mars, and Jupiter. Due to their icy conditions, Uranus and Neptune are referred to as the Ice Giants. Uranus doesn’t get a lot of Sun, you see. In fact, parts of Uranus can go decades without seeing the sun at all. If you stick something on these parts of Uranus, you truly have stuck them where the “sun don’t shine.”
The amount of hydrogen sulphide on each planet helps researchers learn how they formed.
“What we think is that for Jupiter and Saturn, where they formed, ammonia was probably mostly in icy form. But hydrogen sulphide was a sort of gas and so less easily absorbed as the planet grew,” Irwin said.
“Whereas for Uranus, and we guess Neptune, they formed farther out where hydrogen sulphide was also in icy form and so could be collected by the planet.”