Astronomers and data scientists have discovered a 35-year-old fart while poring over the signals sent back by the Voyager 2 space probe as it traveled past Uranus in 1986. We now know that V-ger flew through a plasmoid, a magnetic bubble that carried a piece of the planet’s atmosphere into space.
This data was only just 60 seconds of Voyager 2’s 45-hour fly by. A proverbial needle in a haystack. Gershman added, “But if you plotted it in 3D, it would look like a cylinder…”. Comparing results to other planetary passes, this cylindrical shape is at least 127,000 miles long and 250,000 miles across. They think the plasmoid is made of ionized particles, mostly ionized hydrogen.
While some planets have twisted magnetic fields, Uranus’ field were smooth-closed-magnetic loops. Such loops they say are formed when a spinning planet flings small amounts of it’s atmosphere into space.
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(Image credit: NASA)