It’s bad enough that Uranus is the “butt” of all jokes, but now, kids all over the world can now say that Uranus smells like a “butt.”
Uranus’ upper clouds are made of hydrogen sulfide, the same molecule that gives rotten eggs that awful smell. This was discovered Leigh Fletcher and his colleagues detected the chemical fingerprint of hydrogen sulfide at the top of the planet’s clouds. The team issued their reports in the April 23 issue of Nature Astronomy.
This discovery wasn’t a complete surprise, though—observations from the 1990’s showed hints of the chemical lurking deep in the atmosphere of Uranus, but the gas wasn’t conclusively detected.
As it turns out, the clouds are not just the smell of farts, but they may have helped in discovering some details of the early solar system. It is likely that frozen hydrogen sulfide ice crystals would have been abundant in further reaches of the early solar system, suggesting that Uranus and Neptune were born farther from the sun than Jupiter and Saturn.
Fletcher says that “this tells you the gas giants and the ice giants were formed in a sightly different way.”
Fletcher and his team now are planning to send a spacecraft to the ice giants of Uranus and Neptune, the first since the Voyager spacecraft, which visited in the 1980’s.
So while all of the crude humor surrounding this planet may have grown stale, none can now deny the irony of its atmosphere, nor the wonders that such distant bodies still dangle before our scientists today.
Looks like Uranus was in on the joke this whole time.
Photo from Nasa.gov