Uranus might be hiding two mysterious dark moons, reveals Voyager 2 data

Scientists have spotted two mysteriously dark moons withing Uranus’s F rings orbiting the planet. The discovery of two moons came as a surprise as they were undiscovered till date. What’s striking is that the dark moons were found while scanning the decades-old data collected by Voyager 2 spacecraft.

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and contains beautiful ring system. It is the third largest planet in our solar system and boasts rings smaller than Saturn. Researchers have discovered 27 natural satellites of Uranus and the addition of two new satellites will force scientists to revise the number.

Voyager 2 spacecraft had discovered 10 moons of the mysteriously blue planet by 1986 and the number of moons grew to 27 in next 20 years. However, scientists were unable to locate other two moons because Uranus is located very far from Earth and these moons are dark as well as very small which made them almost invisible to astronomers in the past.

The new discovery was made after Researchers from the University of Idaho rechecked the data collected by the Voyager 2 spacecraft and got stunned to find something hidden between 13 rings of Uranus — Alpha and Beta. After examining the images, researchers found that these rings show a series of wavy patterns consistent with the presence of two tiny moons.  “These patterns may be wakes from small moonlets orbiting exterior to these rings,” said study authors.

Study authors further added that these moons are very small with diameters measuring between two miles and nine miles (four to 14 km). It is because of their small size that scientists were unable to detect these moons till date. However, as the technology progressed and with better image processing, scientists have uncovered the mystery of alpha and beta rings of Uranus.

The astonishing discovery has raised the tentacles of scientists and they will examine the planet and its rings with the iconic Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

Moreover,  Voyager 2 is a space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer planets. Its primary mission ended with the exploration of the Neptunian system on October 2, 1989, after having visited the Uranian system in 1986, the Saturnian system in 1981, and the Jovian system in 1979. Voyager 2 is now in its extended mission to study the outer reaches of the Solar System and has been operating for 39 years, 1 month and 27 days. It remains in contact through the Deep Space Network.

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