OCT 03, 2015 10:12 AM PDT

Scientists Wish They Could See the Rocky Core of Neptune

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard


Scientists are incredibly interested in what may be at the center of gassy planets like Neptune and Uranus. They believe that most of the planet's outer layers is just gas, but at the center, there is a rocky core approximately the same size of the Earth.

What scientists are interested in is getting a closer look, but it's incredibly difficult to do so. These planets are incredibly far away and take years to get to. Scientists want to be able to see what's underneath the gassy layers, just in case there might be some incredible features about the planets that we're overlooking.

Fortunately, scientists can observe a similar Neptune-sized planet called GJ436B almost 30 light years away with the Hubble Space Telescope, which NASA says is having its gassy layers evaporated by a nearby star. The result is that the planet is leaving a huge gassy trail in space as it orbits its nearby star.

The planet is only about 3 million miles away from its parent star, which is a red dwarf star, and because it's so close, it only takes 2.6 Earth days for the planet to complete one revolution around the star. Being so close, the heat is literally searing off the gassy layers of the planet, and giving scientists a front-row seat to watching the gassy layers evaporate. It'll be a long, long, long time before enough of the gas evaporates to see the rocky core of the planet, but it's still interesting to observe.

GJ436B is only visible with the ultraviolet light spectrum, which means it can only be seen by the Hubble Space Telescope in space. This is because our atmosphere filters out the UV light spectrum, so no telescopes on the planet would be able to see it.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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