Gas Planets

Scientists Intrigued by Strange Blobs on Uranus

byTony Tran
Sep 18

The blobs are mushy and filled with gas.

Uranus’ Mystery

Researchers believe that mushy blobs on Uranus are hiding lots of gas. 

More specifically, scientists have discovered that “mushballs,” large slushy hailstones made of ammonia and water, might be causing an odd atmospheric phenomenon on Uranus, according to a press release about the research. The mushballs, which are also present on Neptune, might be carrying ammonia into the two planets’ atmosphere and hiding the gas from detection. 

Gassy Balls

The balls might actually be the secret behind why scientists can’t detect ammonia in the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune — which is odd because it’s abundant with other gasses like methane. 

However, observations from Jupiter showed that mushballs there can often transport ammonia deep into its atmosphere, and concealing it from detection with clouds. 


“The Juno spacecraft has shown that in Jupiter, ammonia is present in abundance, but generally much deeper than expected — thanks to the formation of mushballs,” said planetary scientist Trisan Guillot. He presented a study of his team’s mushball research at the Europlanet Science Congress 2021. 

“I show that what we have learned at Jupiter can be applied to provide a plausible solution to this mystery at Uranus and Neptune,” he added.  

READ MORE: Mushballs stash away missing ammonia on Uranus and Neptune [Phys.org]

More on Uranus: Scientists Discover X-Rays Blasting Out of Uranus


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