Neptune is the eighth planet of the Solar System and the furthest from the Sun, which is part of the outer planets or gaseous giants.
It was also the first to be discovered thanks to mathematical operations, from the orbital behavior of Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter. Its name comes from the Roman God of the oceans, called by the Greek Poseidon.
Together with Uranus, they have been cataloged as the “frozen giants” of the Solar System, since their orbits are too far from the Sun to conserve temperatures even close to 0 ° C. However, Neptune is slightly larger than Uranus and quite denser.
Neptune was considered the farthest planet in the Solar System until the discovery in 1930 of Pluto, until in 2006 it regained its title, because Pluto happened to be considered a dwarf planet or planetoid.
Neptune is in orbit around the Sun, like all other planets in the Solar System, at 4,498,116,480 kilometers from the sun (about 4,350,000,000 km from Earth), in the next orbit of Uranus. Its orbit takes 165 Earth years to complete a return to the Sun.
The drawings of Galileo Galilei reveal that Neptune had been glimpsed in some way, but confused with a star. It is considered that the planet was discovered in the nineteenth century, thanks to studies of the orbit of Uranus by Alexis Bouvard and then John Couch Adams, who respectively observed anomalies in it and calculated the orbit of a possible eighth planet. Urbain Le Verrier in 1846 mathematically confirmed these calculations and calculated the position of the planet on September 23 of the same year.
In terms of its dimensions, Neptune has a mass of more than 17 times the Earth and a volume equivalent to 57 times our planet. It is a hugely dense planet, with a diameter of 49,572 km. This makes it the fourth planet with the largest diameter and the third with the largest mass of the entire Solar System.
Initially it was thought that Neptune had only one moon: Triton, the largest of the fourteen satellites (or moons) we know today. The other satellites are Nereida, Náyade, Talasa, Despina, Galatea, Larisa, Proteo, Halimedes, Sao, Laomedeia, Psmate, Neso and S / 2004 N1 (tentative name, discovered in 2013).
Neptune has a system of rings, similar to those of Saturn and Uranus, composed of particles of ice, silicates and organic particles product of the magnetic radiation of the planet. Each of these rings receives a name:
Adams, 63,000 km from the center of the planet, the narrowest and most exterior.
Le Verrier, 53,000 km from the center of the planet, the intermediate one.
Galle, 42,000 km from the center of the planet, the thickest of the three.
Between the rings of Le Verrier and Galle there is also a very thin sheet of spatial materials.
Similar to Uranus, Neptune is composed of a rocky core embedded in an icy shell, around which there is a dense and thick layer of atmospheric gases that comprise almost 10% of its total mass.
The core of the planet consists of molten rock, water, liquid ammonia and methane, while its surface layer is hydrogen, helium, water and methane. The paradox is that while its exterior is frozen, it is estimated that the heart of Neptune reaches temperatures of up to 4700 ° C.
7. Magnetic field
Like many other planets, Neptune has its own magnetic field, inclined about 47 ° to the axis of rotation, just like Uranus. As with the Earth, it is a magnetic dipole generated by the movement of electromagnetic substances inside.
8. Temperature and weather conditions
The fastest winds of the Solar System take place in Neptune, reaching 2200 kmph. It is estimated that its interior is stormy, with long seasons of 40 terrestrial years and with an average temperature of -200 ° C.
9. Space exploration
The first experimentally obtained impressions of Neptune were taken by the Voyager 2 probe in August 1989, revealing much more in its wake than years of telescopic observation. This information gave us a good picture of the planet and its moons, of which Triton seems to be the most particular and the one of greatest astronomical interest.
The telescopic observation of Neptune is challenging, since it is not a planet whose brightness is intense to be so far from the Sun. It is best seen from the southern hemisphere of the Earth, and the best times are the next to its opposition to the Earth (its diametrically opposite orbital position).