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Herschel Observations Reveal Composition of Uranian Moons

18 Sep 2020, 23:18 UTC
Herschel Observations Reveal Composition of Uranian Moons
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Observations taken using the Herschel Space Observatory have given us the answer to the question of “what are Uranus’s moons made of?” A question, it should be noted, the research team wasn’t even trying to answer. As co-author Ulrich Klaas explains: “Actually, we carried out the observations to measure the influence of very bright infrared sources such as Uranus on the camera detector. We discovered the moons only by chance as additional nodes in the planet’s extremely bright signal.”

IMAGE: The images show the position of the five largest Uranian moons and their orbits around Uranus on 12 July 2011 as seen by Herschel. Left: Calculated positions and orbits of the moons. The left side of the orbital plane is pointing towards us. The size of the objects is not shown to scale. Right: False-colour map of the infrared brightness at a wavelength of 70 µm after removal of the signal from the planet Uranus, measured with the PACS instrument of the Herschel Space Observatory. The characteristic shape of the signals, which resembles a three-leaf clover, is an artifact generated by the telescope. CREDIT: T. Müller (HdA)/Ö. H. Detre et al./MPIA

Cold objects, such as Uranus and the fives moons ...

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