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11 interesting facts about the planet Neptune on its 174th birthday

interesting facts about the planet neptune
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It was 23rd September in 1846 the more distant planet, Neptune (Though it’s an ongoing debatable controversial topic) was born or was discovered. Because of its long distance from our earth, few exploratory missions to this planet have been done. So, there are many unknown facts to discover on this fascinating planet.

Besides some unknown facts, there are many known, but interesting facts about the planet Neptune. Let’s dive into the discussion. I hope, you will enjoy it. Do you know a blue planet with rings? Actually, there are two planets like that. one is Uranus & another is Neptune. Today will discuss the second one.

All about the planet Neptune. Source: Geographic
National Geographic

11 interesting facts about the planet Neptune:

1. Exploration:

After the big bang, when our solar system was created, the planet is a vital part of this solar system. One of the planets is Neptune. It was the first part of the 19th century, two mathematicians, John Couch Adams from England & Urbain Le Verrier from France watched separately that the path of Uranus is not as should be by the Mathematical calculations. They guess that the reason might be any gravitational force of another planet near Uranus. Verier was also able to find out the location of the unknown planet. And finally, it became right, when Astronomer, Johann Gottfried Galle discovered Neptune by capturing a picture on 23rd September in 1846. However, “Who is the real explorer of Neptune?” is still a controversy. Many times, this credit goes equally to both Adams & Verrier.

2. How big is Neptune?

Neptune is the 4th big planet among all planets until discovered in our solar system. Its equatorial diameter is 49,528 kilometres. Though it’s smaller than Uranus, its weight is heavier than Uranus, because it has a much higher density than Uranus. It’s nothing but an ocean of Methane gas. Neptune is the smallest gas giant among 4 gas giants (Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus) in the solar system.

interesting facts about the planet neptune
Neptune & its rings

3. How far is Neptune from the Sun?

Neptune is in the 8th position in terms of the distance from the Sun. Its radius is 450 crore kilometers. Due to so much distance, it takes almost 164.8 years to make a round complete around the sun, i.e. its annual speed is 164.8 times more than Earth. However there is a controversy on the question, ” Is Neptune the farthest planet?” On that debate, International Astronomical Union (IAU) clearly mention Neptune as the most distant planet at the XXVIth General Assembly in 2006, in Prague. For this, they defined a planet as follows,

“a celestial body orbiting a star that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity but has not cleared its neighboring region of planetesimals and is not a satellite. More explicitly, it has to have sufficient mass to overcome its compressive strength and achieve hydrostatic equilibrium.”

According to their definition, Pluto becomes a dwarf planet, and “Neptune is the most distant planet of the sun”. But according to some Scientists, Dwarf planets are planets too. They are a subclass of planets, just like terrestrials and gas giants. “The controversial IAU decision was made by four percent of its members, most of whom are not planetary scientists, and was opposed immediately by an equal number of professional astronomers in a formal petition led by New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern,” said Laurel Kornfeld.

4. what is Neptune made of? Is Neptune the coldest planet?

As I have mentioned above, the main material of Neptune is cold Methane gas. That’s why it’s a blue planet & it’s more bluish than the earth & even Uranus. Besides, it has Hydrogen, Helium in the atmosphere. Due to so much distance, Neptune is the coldest planet ( about -214°c in the atmosphere), but in the core, it’s similarly hot like other planets (about 7000°c). Here I have to mention that Pluto is colder (about -240°c) than Neptune, but again it can’t be credited because it’s a dwarf planet.

5. Triton, the biggest satellite of Neptune is the coldest place in our solar system:

Neptune has 14 moons named after minor water deities in Greek mythology. NaiadThalassaDespinaGalateaLarissaHippocamp, and Proteus are considered regular moons, whereas, on the other hand, TritonNereidHalimedeSaoLaomedeia, Psamathe, and Neso are the irregular moons. Among the 14 satellites, Triton is the biggest, discovered by William Lassell on October 10, 1846, 17 days after the discovery of Neptune. It’s a highly dense satellite (about 2 g/cm3). Its equatorial diameter is 2704 kilometres. It was the second moon in the Solar System that was discovered to have a substantial atmosphere (an atmosphere, full of nitrogen with small amounts of methane and carbon monoxide). Most importantly, Triton is one of the coldest bodies in the Solar System, with a surface temperature of about 38 K (−235.2 °C) & may be considered as the coldest place, if we take Neptune as the last part of the solar system, I mean ignoring the dwarf planets.

6. Triton is the most unusual moon & only satellite that orbits backwards?

Do you know what is Retrograde motion? The retrograde motion of a Satellite is the motion when its orbit is opposite to its planet’s rotational direction. Sometimes, we may look Retrograde motion of Jupiter or Mars or Saturn in our sky. That is an illusion, caused by Earth’s passing these slower-moving outer worlds. But, Triton’s orbit has always been retrograde with an inclination of at least 125°.  It is the biggest moon in the solar system to have such a strange rotation, but why? Why Does Neptune’s Moon, Triton, Orbit Backwards?  Because if Triton formed during planetary formation it would have orbited the same way that Neptune spins, just as every other large moon in the solar system does. So, from the above question, we can get the easiest explanation that Triton is the honest son of Neptune, which means that Triton took birth somewhere else & later became a moon of Neptune by the gravitational force of Neptune. Neptune’s gravitational force is also the reason for the repulsion of the triton’s old partner. But, how did it captured by Neptune is not clear enough.

7. There will be destruction in about 3.6 billion years due to “Tidal evolution in the Neptune-Triton system”:

Did you know? Neptune has the Strongest Wind in the Solar System ( Though it’s very much distant from the sun, its internal energy is so much that it creates a strong wind, which is 2000 kilometres/hour). Ok, now know another thing that, Triton is another place where these strong winds also flow. Now due to these tides, Triton’s orbit is almost perfectly circular instead of an elliptical orbit. This tidal force is also responsible for Triton’s “earth-like” rotation which is one side of Triton always faces Neptune as one side of our Moon faces Earth. Because of its retrograde orbit and relative proximity to Neptune (closer than the Moon is to Earth), tidal deceleration is causing Triton to spiral inward, (Like Rutherford’s atom model) which will lead to its destruction in about 3.6 billion years & due to Neptune’s gravity it will break into pieces.

8. Triton is similar to Pluto:

The composition of Triton is similar to Pluto. Not only that, according to some astronomers, triton & Pluto share a common origin. There are also many similarities between the two bodies. So, basically, a common question arises in our mind, ” is pluto the lost partner of Triton?”

9. Neptune’s surface gravity is quite similar to our earth:

If you walk on Neptune you feel it like earth. Yes, how are Neptune and earth similar? There are several reasons:

  • The gravity of Neptune is only 17% stronger than Earth’s gravity.
  • That’s actually the closest to Earth’s gravity in the Solar System.
  • Though the mass of Neptune is 17 times that of Earth, at the same time its volume is also 4 times larger than the earth, and that is the reason. That is the point. larger mass spread out over the larger volume results in an almost similar density of the earth & that’s why its gravity is almost identical to the earth.

10. Neptune’s rings captured by Voyager 2 :

what do Uranus and Saturn have in common? The answer is “rings”. how many rings does Neptune have? NASA’s Voyager 2‘s amazing photographs of Neptune clearly showed 3 rings of Neptune. Later, two other rings were discovered. they all were named after the 5 explorers of Neptune. But, these 5 rings (Galle, Le Verrier, Adams, Lassell, Arago) of Neptune are not as bright as Pluto & Uranus. The rings are also younger than that of other planets. It’s believed that the rings are made of dust & rocks & they are created due to the explosions among the moons of Neptune.

interesting facts about the planet neptune
The great dark spot of Neptune

11.”Great dark spot” & “Scooter”:

There is a black cyclone on Neptune, that’s called the “Great dark spot”, which was vanished since the Hubble telescope captured Neptune in 1994. We know that the planet is coldest from the outside, but it’s very much hot from the outside, that’s why a white cloud can be spotted emitted from the inside, which is called “Scooter”.

interesting facts about the planet neptune

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