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Uranus is more gaseous than we thought! Scientists have discovered that the planet is not entirely filled with ice

Uranus is more gaseous than we thought!  Scientists have discovered that the planet is not entirely filled with ice

Written by Nikki, chief science correspondent for Dailymail.Com

20:01 12 April 2024, updated 20:06 12 April 2024

Scientists have discovered methane deep within Uranus, revealing that the blue planet is more gaseous than previously thought.

Early experiments with Uranus found that the planet was composed mainly of helium and hydrogen with a little methane, but a new study says it greatly exceeds previous expectations.

But the strange thing about methane is that it is not in gas form but frozen or “soft” – like a 7-11 Slurpee – and lodged in the core of Uranus.

Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology and the University of California Santa Cruz revealed that despite findings that Uranus is composed entirely of ice, approximately 10% of it is actually methane.

Researchers have found that Uranus is made up of more gas than previously thought and want to understand why it's made of ice if there's a large amount of methane in its core.

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The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, said that classifying Uranus as an “ice giant” may no longer be accurate and that massive amounts of methane could have helped form the planet.

Much is still unknown about Uranus because it is located 1.9 billion miles from Earth, but because the solar system is constantly moving, the distance changes daily, reaching 2 billion miles.

Only one spacecraft in history, Voyager 2, has passed by in the 1980s, leaving scientists believing the planet is composed entirely of ice.

To get a better understanding, researchers developed hundreds of thousands of models of Uranus' interior and tried to determine which model most closely resembled the ice giant's mass and radius.

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Each model had different levels of methane, helium and hydrogen, but the researchers found that the models with the most gaseous elements most closely resembled Uranus.

Now they are looking to better understand why the planet is made of ice if a large surplus of gas is retained within Uranus.

These results could shed light on the distant planet and nearby giants, including Neptune, to investigate how they formed and better explain the elements that make them up.