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X-rays are detected from Uranus for the first time

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    Science & Technology
  • Published
    2nd Apr, 2021


The presence of X- rays has been recently detected using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory from Uranus. This result may help scientists learn more about this enigmatic ice giant planet in our solar system.

About the Study

  • Observation: The Chandra X-ray image shows a clear detection of X-rays from the first observation.
  • The reason behind the emission: Several reasons are suggested to describe the emission
    • Sun is expected to be one of the reasons behind the emission of X-rays from Uranus.
      • Jupiter and Saturn also scatter X-ray light given by the Sun, which is very much similar to the Earth’s atmosphere scattering of Sun’s light.

About the Uranus

  • It is the seventh planet from the Sun and four times the diameter of the Earth.
  • It has two sets of rings around its equator and rotates on its side.
  • This is a cold planet that is made up of almost hydrogen and helium.
  • One possibility is that the rings of Uranus are producing X-rays themselves, which is similar to that of Saturn’s rings.
    • When the charged particles such as electron and proton which surrounds the Uranus, collides its rings can cause to emit X-rays.
  • It is also said to be possible for some of the X-rays to come from auroras on Uranus as similar to X-rays emitted in Earth’s auroras.
    • X-rays are emitted in Earth’s auroras which are produced by energetic electrons when they travel down the planet’s magnetic field lines to its poles and are slowed down by the atmosphere.


  • It is a colorful light that shows up in the sky when high-energy particles interact with the atmosphere.
  • An aurora is referred to as polar lights (aurora Polaris), northern lights (aurora borealis), or southern lights (aurora australis).
  • It is predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic).
  • Auroras form as a result of disturbances in the magnetosphere which is caused by the solar wind. 

Significance of the Study

  • X-ray observations can help in understanding the unusual orientations of its spin axis and its magnetic field which shows a different orientation.


  • X-ray radiation is referred to as Röntgen radiation.
  • An X-ray is a penetrating form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation.
  • Most X-rays have a wavelength that ranges from 10 picometers to 10 nanometers.
  • X-ray wavelengths are shorter than UV rays and longer than gamma rays.
  • This is a type of ionizing radiation, and therefore harmful to living tissue. 
    • Hard X-rays can pass through relatively thick objects without being much absorbed or scattered. For this reason, X-rays are widely used to image widely opaque objects.