Revealed: Uranus new secrets from old study by NASA's Voyager 2
New Delhi : NASA's Voyager 2 has been deployed to study the outer planets in our solar system and their behavior. Voyager 2 studied Uranus in 1986 and the scientists were going through the findings when they discovered a secret about the planet.
After three decades of the mission, the scientists were reinspecting the data collected during the probe and found that the probe flew through a plasmoid, a giant magnetic bubble that may have been whisking Uranus's atmosphere out to space.
According to experts in the field, the magnetic field is solely responsible for the protection of the planet, defending the atmosphere-stripping blasts of the solar wind. But they can also create opportunities for an escape like the giant globs cut loose from Saturn and Jupiter when magnetic field lines become tangled.
In both cases, to understand how the atmosphere changes in planets, scientists pay close attention to magnetism.
The scientists are still struggling to find out calculations which can define the magnetically weird planet.
Scientists downloaded Voyager 2’s magnetometer readings. They plotted a new data point every 1.92 seconds. Smooth lines gave way to jagged spikes and dips. And that’s when they saw it: a tiny zigzag with a big story.
They found a plasmoid that occupied a mere 60 seconds of Voyager 2’s 45-hour-long flight by Uranus. It appeared as a quick up-down blip in the magnetometer data. But, if plotting it in 3D, it would appear as a cylinder.
Scientists compared their results to plasmoids observed at Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury, they gauged that the cylindrical shape was at least 127,000 miles (204,000 kilometers) long, and up to roughly 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) across.
Moreover, the plasmoid had smooth, closed magnetic loops that typically formed as a spinning planet flings bits of its atmosphere to space.
According to scientists, the findings help focus on new questions about the planet. The remaining mystery is part of the draw.