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Title: The D/H ratio in the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune from Herschel PACS observations
Authors: H. Feuchtgruber, E. Lellouch, G. Orton, T. de Graauw, B. Vandenbussche, B. Swinyard, R. Moreno, C. Jarchow, F. Billebaud, T. Cavalie, S. Sidher, P. Hartogh

Herschel-PACS measurements of the rotational R(0) and R(1) HD lines in the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune are analysed in order to derive a D/H ratio with improved precision for both planets. The derivation of the D/H ratio includes also previous measurements of the R(2) line by the Short Wavelength Spectrometer on board the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO). The available spectroscopic line information of the three rotational transitions is discussed and applied in the radiative transfer calculations. The best simultaneous fit of all three lines requires only a minor departure from the Spitzer temperature profile of Uranus and a departure limited to 2K from the Voyager temperature profile of Neptune (both around the tropopause). The resulting and remarkably similar D/H ratios for Uranus and Neptune are found to be (4.4±0.4) x 10^{-5} and (4.1±0.4) x 10^{-5} respectively. Although the deuterium enrichment in both atmospheres compared to the protosolar value is confirmed, it is found to be lower compared to previous analysis. Using the interior models of Podolak et al. (1995), Helled et al. (2011) and Nettelmann et al. (2013), and assuming that complete mixing of the atmosphere and interior occured during the planets history, we derive a D/H in protoplanetary ices between (5.75--7.0) x 10^{-5} for Uranus and between (5.1--7.7) x 10^{-5} for Neptune. Conversely, adopting a cometary D/H for the protoplanetary ices between (15-30) x 10^{-5}, we constrain the interior models of both planets to have an ice mass fraction of 14-32%, i.e. that the two planets are rock-dominated.

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Voyager 2 passed within 81,500 kilometres of the cloud tops of Uranus on January 24, 1986.
Voyager 2 also discovered the moons Cordelia, Ophelia, BiancaCressida, Desdemona, Juliet,Portia, Rosalind, Belinda, Perdita and Puck; studied the planet's unique atmosphere, caused by its axial tilt of 97.8°; and examined the Uranian ring system.

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The rings of Uranus were discovered on March 10, 1977, by James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham, and Douglas J. Mink. More than 200 years ago, William Herschel also reported observing rings (in 1789); some modern astronomers are skeptical that he could have actually seen them, as they are very dark and faint - others are not.
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Uranus, the seventh planet of the Solar System, has 27 known moons, all of which are named after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope.
Ariel and Umbriel, were discovered by William Lassell on thhe 24th October, 1851.

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Series of bumps sent Uranus into its sideways spin

Uranus's highly tilted axis makes it something of an oddball in our Solar System. The accepted wisdom is that Uranus was knocked on its side by a single large impact, but new research to be presented on Thursday 6th October at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting in Nantes rewrites our theories of how Uranus became so tilted and also solves fresh mysteries about the position and orbits of its moons. By using simulations of planetary formation and collisions, it appears that early in its life Uranus experienced a succession of small punches instead of a single knock-out blow. This research has important ramifications on our theories of giant planet formation.
Uranus is unusual in that its spin axis is inclined by 98 degrees compared to its orbital plane around the Sun. This is far more pronounced than other planets, such as Jupiter (3 degrees), Earth (23 degrees), or Saturn and Neptune (29 degrees). Uranus is, in effect, spinning on its side.

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Tonight is a good time to Find Uranus in the constellation Pisces.
A pair of 10 x 50 binoculars will easily show the magnitude 5.7 planet.

Uranus290911b.gif Uranus290911.gif

To find the planet project a line down from a couple of bright stars in the constellation Pegasus, then swing to the right, and locate a distinctive pattern of 6 stars (that form an offset ladder, or letter 'E'), then star-hop to the planet.



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Uranus is at Opposition on the 25th September, 2011.



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Uranus240911b.gif
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Latest image taken of Uranus by the Keck telescope showing planetary storms. The moons Miranda, Puck (above, right) and Desdemona (just visible to the right) were also captured.

uranus.png

Credit M. Brown



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Two outer rings of Uranus were found in 2003-2005 in Hubble Space Telescope photos.

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