Scientists discovered the X-rays emitted by the mysterious Uranus for the first time.
The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research on Wednesday, studied two planetary images taken by the Chandra Observatory in 2002 and 2017. On ice giants, planets mainly composed of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.
The culprit? NASA said on its website: “It’s mainly the sun.”
However, the agency said, “The fascinating hint is that there is at least one other X-ray source.”
The agency said: “One possibility is that Uranus’s ring itself will produce X-rays, which is the case with Saturn̵
X-rays can provide unique insights into the characteristics of the solar system. For Uranus, the authors of the study say that these features can include “the composition of the atmosphere, surface, and planetary rings.”
According to NASA, astronomers have previously observed X-ray scattered light from the sun on Jupiter and Saturn, but not on the ice giants Uranus and Neptune. The agency said the planet is particularly interesting because of its “abnormal spin axis and magnetic field direction.”
NASA said that determining the source of the X-rays emitted by Uranus can help astronomers better understand how more mysterious objects in space emit X-rays, including “growing black holes and neutron stars.”
Uranus is about four times the diameter of the Earth and is the seventh planet of the sun. It is known for its two sets of rings around the equator and its lateral rotation, which makes it unique among other planets in the solar system.