Astronomers have released
the most richly detailed, highest-resolution images ever taken of Uranus. The images were taken in the near infrared using a new technique with the telescopes of the Keck Observatory. The images reveal a surprising amount of activity and convection. The images show Uranus has bands of circulating clouds, massive swirling hurricanes and an unusual swarm of convective features at its north pole. You can find a larger version of the images here
Imke de Pater, professor and chair of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the team members, said in a statement, "This 'popcorn' appearance of Uranus's pole reminds me very much of a Cassini image of Saturn's south pole."
The study was led by Larry Sromovsky, a planetary scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In addition to de Pater, other team members are Pat Fry of the University of Wisconsin and Heidi Hammel of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy.
Hammel says, "These images reveal an astonishing amount of complexity in Uranus' atmosphere. We knew the planet was active, but until now, much of the activity had been masked by the noise in the data."
Photo: Lawrence Sromovsky, Pat Fry, Heidi Hammel, Imke de Pater