Frozen Giant

Neptune’s size compared to Earth.

Dec 28, 2018

Neptune is another remote celestial body that exhibits many anomalies.

On July 12, 2011 Neptune completed its first orbit around the Sun since it was discovered on September 23, 1846. This means that observations of the giant planet are lacking, since its great distance strains astronomers’ ability to study it. Spectrographic data about Neptune, for instance, is limited to about the last 30 years.

Neptune is the eighth planet and farthest from the Sun. Its diameter is around 49,250 kilometers. Neptune possesses a mean orbital radius of approximately 4.4 billion kilometers; giving it a year of 164.79 Earth years. Its high gravity means that its escape velocity is close to 85,000 kilometers per hour. In comparison, escape velocity from Earth is 42,168 kilometers per hour.

Neptune is invisible to the naked eye, never reaching more than seventh magnitude in brightness, so it was the first planet to be discovered based on observations of other planets. Analyzing the orbital anomalies of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, enabled Urbain Le Verrier to predict the position of a hypothetical eighth planet beyond Uranus. Johann Galle and Heinrich d’Arrest pointed the Berlin Observatory’s 24 centimeter Fraunhofer Refractor at the predicted position and found Neptune.

A previous Picture of the Day reported that astronomers using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) discovered a ten degree Celsius temperature difference in the south polar region of Neptune. They think that the Sun selectively heats the northern and southern hemispheres, initiating a convective flow of methane around the planet. The thermal gradients that were observed are attributed to upwellings of warmer gas within those convective streams. Researchers suggested at the time that Neptune’s atmosphere could be more thermally active than either Jupiter or Saturn.

So-called thermal anomalies have been seen on SaturnJupiterIoEnceladus, as well as on comets and moons. Massive electrical disturbances deep below the clouds on Neptune will generate radio noise, as well as eruptions of gases from its lower atmosphere into the stratosphere where they form visible features. Those massive lightning discharges form electrical conduits that connect Neptune’s ionosphere and magnetosphere with the Sun. Thermal imaging sees warm upwelling and interprets it as thermal convection.

However, the strongest winds on the most distant planet contradict any thermal convection models. On Neptune, a place so cold that nitrogen, oxygen, and argon could freeze into solids, winds around the Great Dark Spot are moving at almost 2000 kilometers per hour.

In an Electric Universe, Neptune’s hot storms, hot poles, 2000 kilometer per hour winds, and atmospheric banding indicate an electrically active planet connected to the Sun’s circuit. It is principally electrical energy and not internal thermal energy that powers Neptune’s winds. Conventional theory cannot adequately explain the data. Understanding Neptune will help planetary scientists better understand weather systems on Earth.

Stephen Smith

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