In a study that made people giggle everywhere, researchers found that much of the upper atmosphere of Uranus is hydrogen sulfide. This is the same compound responsible for some of the smells that are known here on Earth, including farts and rotten eggs.
"If an unfortunate human being would ever tumble through the clouds of Uranus, they would be confronted with very unpleasant and olfactory conditions," said Patrick Irwin of the University of Oxford, one of the authors of the study, in a press release [1
] "Asphyxiation and exposure in the atmosphere of -200 degrees Celsius, which consisted mainly of hydrogen, helium and methane, would take their toll long before the smell" Irwin said.
Scientists used the data from the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii to breathe the atmosphere above the Uranus clouds from the air and solve one of the world's stinkiest puzzles in the solar system. While some scientists have long believed that Uranus has high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, others believed that the planet would contain ammonia, as observed in Jupiter and Saturn.
The Gemini data released this week in Nature Astronomy confirms that Uranus stinks.
"Thanks to improved hydrogen sulphide absorption line data and the wonderful Gemini spectra, we now have the fingerprint that captured the culprit," said Irwin.
Or maybe the one who smelled it acted.