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Neptune's mystery to science: The Southern Hemisphere is in the middle of summer, but it's colder and colder

Neptune’s mystery to science: The Southern Hemisphere is in the middle of summer, but it’s colder and colder

In the southern hemisphere of Neptune he is summer since 2005And so it will be for another 23 years or so. This is due to the fact that it is 30 times farther from the Sun than the Earth, and it takes 165 years to complete the circle around our star. Modern technological innovations have made it possible to collect more accurate data about the planet, obtaining information that was literally unimaginable until a few decades ago. The same goes for Neptune temperaturewhose measurements are now possible thanks to highly advanced tools such as very large telescope (VLT) from the European Southern Observatory.


The VLT imagers and the Medium Infrared Spectrometer (VISIR) installed at an altitude of 2,635 meters above sea level at Cerro Paranal in Chile and other telescopes around the world (Spitzer, Gemini South, Subaru, Keck and Gemini North) have collected valuable data on atmospheric temperatures of the planet over a long period of time. The past 17 years, with a note important anomaly Which opened a heated debate among astronomers. Basically, although in the southern hemisphere of Neptune the summer is “full” (remember that the average temperature It’s not really a swimsuitbeing from -220°C) cooling 8°C.

Since we observed Neptune in early southern summer, we expected temperatures to slowly rise, not get colder.Michael Roman of the University of Leicester, first author of the study published in The Planetary Science Journal, explains.

Thermal infrared images detected Significant cooling in the stratosphere, which coincided with an equally noticeable increase in the temperature of the planet’s south polewhich were prepared between 2018 and 2020 by 11 degrees Celsius. The polar vortex of Neptune has been known for some time, but such a noticeable increase in such a narrow range has not occurred before.

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Now the search for the cause has begun: these are hypotheses that have not yet been carefully analyzed, among which there is a possibility that Change in stratospheric chemistry. However, I Solar cyclesor even random weather phenomena.

Soon we will know more

We won’t have to wait long for answers: by the end of the decade VLT – already a technological masterpiece in itself, Capable of exciting discoveries – will join himvery large telescope, also currently under construction in the Atacama Desert region. With the new devices, you will be able to access more accurate data, to which will be added those provided by James Webb Telescope Which will soon gather information about the chemistry and temperature of Neptune’s atmosphere.