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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Zipping Around Uranus and Neptune
15 May 2013 5:00 pm
Although billions of kilometers distant, Uranus (left) and Neptune (right) sport something a terrestrial airline pilot would appreciate: souped-up jet streams that can clock in at more than 1000 kilometers an hour. The two worlds are twin planets, with nearly identical sizes, masses, and compositions. Each is an "ice giant" dominated by a large core of ice, rock, and iron inside a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium, which methane gas tinges green and blue. Both worlds have east-to-west jet streams at their equators and west-to-east jet streams at high latitudes; the winds ferry material through the atmospheres and thereby subtly affect the planets' gravitational fields. Now, as researchers report online today in Nature, those fields reveal that the jet streams extend no farther than 1100 kilometers beneath the cloud tops—just a fraction of each planet's size, because the equatorial diameters of Uranus and Neptune are respectively 51,118 and 49,528 kilometers. Many stars host worlds this large, so the finding may have implications for adventurous pilots skirting through the friendly skies of alien solar systems.
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