What can studying the ice giants tell us?

What can the farthest planets in the Solar System, Uranus and Neptune, tell astronomers?


Uranus (left), Neptune (right), Earth (lower left), Sirius B (lower centre), and Venus (lower right). The smaller planets, Earth’s moon, and dwarf planets below, in decreasing size are Mars and Mercury, the Moon, Pluto, and Haumea. Image credit: Paul Stansifer/84user/NASA/Celestia/JPL/Caltech

Asked by Jasper Grant

Although Uranus and Neptune are both very different to Earth, learning more about them can still help teach astronomers about both our own planet and exoplanets that we are discovering around other stars. For example, understanding how and when Uranus and Neptune formed fills in another piece of the jigsaw of how the planets in the Solar System were built, and how the formation of the other planets affected the early Earth.

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