Space & Astronomy
Twin of Uranus found in distant solar system
October 19, 2014 | 12 comments
Uranus is one of two ice giants in our solar system. Image Credit: NASA
Astronomers have identified the first ever ice giant planet beyond our own solar system.
The distant and enigmatic worlds of Uranus and Neptune, unlike the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, are comprised of a combination of both ice and gas, something that has so far made them unique among all the other planets discovered to date.
This may soon be set to change however as scientists in Ohio believe that they have identified the first ever extrasolar ice giant planet at a distance of over 25,000 light years away.
The discovery should provide astronomers with the opportunity to better understand how ice giant planets are formed and how Uranus and Neptune might have ended up in the outer solar system.
"Nobody knows for sure why Uranus and Neptune are located on the outskirts of our solar system, when our models suggest that they should have formed closer to the sun," said Prof Andrew Gould.
"One idea is that they did form much closer, but were jostled around by Jupiter and Saturn and knocked farther out."
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