Our solar system is like the rest of the universe in that is incredibly vast. Some believe this can be advantage because it makes things easier to find and observe.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. There are countless mysterious things and events that take place within the boundaries of our Sun’s orbit. And many of them have kept astronomers baffled for decades. Listed below are 7 unexplained mysteries about our solar system.
Storms on Jupiter Appear as Beehives
Storms take place on almost every planet that has both an atmosphere along with moisture underneath their clouds–and this includes our own planet Earth. We refer to these storms by several names. The more common ones are tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes, and cyclones. In a general sense, these storms tend to have a round shape and possesses an eye of them storm at the center.
However, this is not the case with some of the gas giant planets. For instance, there is a very odd phenomenon regarding storms on Jupiter that have just been discovered recently. The storms on this giant planet tend to have a hexagonal shape. Many of them together form a type of honeycomb structure – this is especially true at its poles.
Jupiter is not the only gas giant that has six-sided storms. Hexagonal storms have also been observed on Saturn as well. No one knows why these planetary storms take such a shape.
The Saturn Moon Called Iapetus Is Walnut Shaped
What if all of the Earth’s tallest mountain peaks were scattered across its equator in one long chain? This is basically what has happened on Saturn’s moon known as Iapetus. The long mountain ridge along its centerline has an altitude of 12 miles, an altitude this twice as tall as Mount Everest. This unique mountain chain gives that moon a very distinct and baffling “walnut” shape.
Scientists have no clue why created this ridge. Some of them believe that it could be the remnants of its own ring (much like Saturn’s rings) that crashed to the surface. Others believe it could be comprised of debris from another older moon.
Neptune Radiates More Heat Than It Receives
Whenever a planet is located far from the Sun, it makes sense that it would have an icy surface. Pluto pretty much confirms this line of thinking as its warmest spot is around -223 degrees Celsius (-369 °F).
Since Pluto was downgraded as a non-Planet, Neptune is now the planet that is furthest from the Sun. While it is certainly not a tropical paradise, astronomers do not feel that Neptune is as cold as it ought to be. The reason is that Neptune actually radiates over two times the amount of energy that it receives from the Sun.
Pluto Has a Nearly Endless Supply of Nitrogen
Since Pluto is so very small, it hardly has enough gravity to hang on to its own atmosphere. Because of this, Pluto continuously loses hundreds of tons of its nitrogen laden atmosphere as it circles the Sun.
Considering this activity, scientists cannot explain why Pluto didn’t run out of nitrogen a long time ago. Their most popular explanation is there must be an unknown geological process taking place internally that produces vast amounts of nitrogen.
Methane on Mars
Methane has been discovered on several planets, and astronomers always get excited by such a discovery because methane is one of life’s byproducts. However, not many people are as aware that methane is also created using nonbiological means as well – therefore, it is not only a guarantee for an existence of life.
While Mars has nowhere near the methane quantity as Earth, the exciting thing about the methane on Mars is that its quantity varies quite a bit. And this variation appears to be linked to the seasons.
Scientists have very few explanations for this methane behavior. One of them is that perhaps methane is absorbed and subsequently released by surface rocks in accordance with the season.
Upper Atmosphere of the Sun is Much Hotter Than its Surface
The surface of the Sun is extremely hot. In fact, it can get to temperatures around 5,500 degrees Celsius, but the upper atmosphere (called the corona) gets many times hotter at 1 to 10 million degrees Celsius.
The Sun’s corona is very faint and can only be seen during solar eclipses. So how can it be so much hotter than the surface of the hot Sun?
Scientists have no solid explanation, but one of their theories is that millions of tiny solar flares that fire off on the surface of the Sun every second, and that transfer energy at an amazing rate to the upper atmosphere.
The existence of these 6 Unexplained Mysteries about Our Solar System is just an example of how the universe is truly a frontier.