New site on Neptune spotted for the first time by ground-based instruments

Earth-based telescopes have discovered a new giant rock mass on Neptune. This is the first time that the bedrock of Neptune’s surface has been imaged by a ground-based observation device, and not from space.

The European Southern Astronomical Observatory (ESO) released on its official channel on the 28th the latest image of Neptune taken by the Very Large Telescope’s (VLT) MUSE wide-angle spectrograph.

The giant rock mass pictured above and to the right of Neptune has never been seen by astronomers. During the analysis, the ESO research team also noticed that another, smaller but brighter spot is located nearby.

New Neptune Base Confirmed by ESO Very Large Telescope Observations <Изображение = официальный сайт ESO>

So far, several sunspots have been discovered on the surface of Neptune. A close-up image of Neptune sent to Earth by NASA’s Voyager 2 probe 34 years ago shows bright white cirrus clouds (cirrus clouds) and bedrock composed of methane ice in the upper atmosphere. This foundation disappeared after a few years. In 2018, Hubble Space Telescope observations confirmed the presence of new bedrock in Neptune’s northern hemisphere.

Professor Patrick Irwin of the University of Oxford, UK, who took part in the study, said: “Astronomers have not yet figured out why Neptune’s bedrock is constantly appearing and disappearing.”

Professor Irvine added: “There are many reasons for the formation of Neptune’s mountain ranges, including huge rock masses. At present, the main hypothesis is that fine dust in the interior turns black while ice and fog mix in Neptune’s atmosphere.”

Neptune as seen by Muse, a wide-field spectrometer mounted on the Very Large Telescope. Muse is able to simultaneously observe using light of a specific wavelength. <Изображение = Официальный сайт ESO>

ESO explained that this conclusion was made possible thanks to the three-dimensional reflection spectrum of Neptune obtained using the VLT and Muse. The research team decomposed sunlight reflected from Neptune’s rocks to find out where in Neptune’s atmosphere the rocks are located and what chemicals they contain.

Neptune has attracted attention recently due to the periodic disappearance and appearance of clouds in its atmosphere. A research team from the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) has argued that the periodic change in the amount of clouds on Neptune is the influence of the Sun, which is located at a distance of about 4.55 billion kilometers.

Reporter Chung Yang

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