This picture of Neptune was produced from the last entirety planet photos taken with the green and orange filter on the Voyager 2 small angle camera. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL.

You are watching: What is the color of neptune

Out of every the planets in the solar system, Neptune is the one the looks most peaceful. As soon as seen v a telescope, the eighth and also most remote planet from the sun shows up sky-blue or together a uniform, calm ocean human being that would have made the roman inn god the the sea proud.

In reality, Neptune is anything but peaceful and also its atmosphere is actually mostly made of 3 gases: hydrogen (80%), helium (19%), and methane (1%).

It’s in reality clouds of methane gas that space responsible because that the far-off planet’s blue marble appearance. Regardless of the truth it renders up a reasonably tiny relationship of Neptune’s atmosphere, methane absorbs red wavelengths of light and reflects blue light outward.

A remote blue gem

Neptune is the just planet in the solar device that isn’t clearly shows to the nude eye. Together such, that was amongst the last to be found in 1846 by Johann Galle, based on mathematical predictions make by Urbain Le Verrier.

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But during these early observations, astronomers had actually no idea what Neptune looked like.

The planet, i beg your pardon is around four times larger than Earth, was very first visited by a spacecraft in 1989 once NASA’s Voyager 2 made a flyby. Voyager beamed ago images showing Neptune’s ocean-like hue for the first time. It was yes, really a punch of luck that Neptune was so aptly named when astronomers could not have actually known that the planet is all blue.

Neptune’s good Dark Spot, accompanied by white high-altitude clouds, as seen by a Voyager spacecraft.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Similarly to Uranus, Neptune is one-fifth hydrogen and helium by mass. The bulk of the planet’s mass, however, is owed to more heavier molecules such as ammonia, methane, carbon, oxygen, and water.

Despite their similarities in size and also composition, Neptune and Uranus room distinctly colored. This is defined by different chemical contents in each of the planets’ top atmospheres, specifically in the global cloud deck.

Neptune’s clouds are well-known to vary through altitude, as with on Earth. Methane clouds condense in the highest layers of the planet’s atmosphere due to frigidly cold temperatures. Additional down, there may be clouds of hydrogen sulfide, ammonium sulfide, ammonia, and water. The blue-toned methane isn’t evenly distributed; ten come a hundred times much more methane, ethane, and also ethyne have the right to be uncovered at Neptune’s equator than at that is poles.

Being current in the outermost layer of the atmosphere, the most crucial compound that impacts the color of both planets’ settings is methane. The greenhouse gas absorbs red irradiate at wavelengths of 600 billionths that a meter, reflecting earlier bluer light. Uranus, however, is more azure, blue-green in appearance due to an additional chromophore the Neptune seems to lack. This details chromophore hasn’t been established yet therefore the true nature of Neptune’s color is quiet a mystery.

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Tibi Puiu

Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. The writes mainly around emerging tech, physics, climate, and also space. In his preventive time, Tibi likes to make weird music top top his computer and groom felines.