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Lecture 1

ASTA01H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Great Dark Spot, Kuiper Belt, Axial Tilt


Department
Astronomy
Course Code
ASTA01H3
Professor
Parandis Tajbakhsh
Lecture
1

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Ice Giants
Uranus and Neptune are ice giants, with small cores of heavy elements and a deep
mantle of solid water, mixed with ices and minerals.
The particular blue colour of these planets is due to methane in the atmosphere.
Both ice giants show systems of very faint rings around them.
Uranus
It is believed that the extreme axial tilt of Uranus was the result of a collision with a large
planetesimal or tidal interactions with gas giants as it migrated outwards.
Uranus radiates about the same amount of heat that it receives from the Sun while
Neptune radiates more internal heat compared to what it receives from the Sun.
Uranus has 27 moons amongst which 5 are considered major moon.
Miranda, the smallest spherical inner moon of Uranus with surface features called ovoids.
Ovoids are likely produced by internal heat driving convection in the icy mantle.
Uranus shows very little atmospheric features, but recent photographs have revealed
changing clouds as the seasons are changing on Uranus.
Neptune
Neptune is the last of the planets in the solar system.
With an axis tilt of 29 degrees, Neptune shows seasons.
At a distance of 30 AU, it takes Neptune 165 years to orbit the sun once.
Neptune shows active cloud formation and has more active atmosphere, chiefly due to
its internal heat.
The great dark spot was a storm similar to Jupiter’s red spot.
Triton is the largest moon of Neptune.
Triton is the only moon in the solar system that is orbiting in the opposite direction of the
rotation of its mother planet (retrograde orbit).
With a surface temperature of -235 C, the surface of Triton is made primarily of Nitrogen
ice.
Triton is locked in synchronous rotation around Neptune.
The strange orbit of Triton makes many believe that it was a Kuiper belt object captured
by Neptune.
Magnetospheres of Ice Giants
The ice giants are not sufficiently massive to accrete a lot of hydrogen and helium.
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