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Uranus: Atmosphere

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Encyclopedia of Planetary Science

Part of the book series: Encyclopedia of Earth Science ((EESS))

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Uranus is the smallest of the group of large, low-density, hydrogen-rich planets known as the gas giants, the others being Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. Two salient characteristics set it apart from the other gas giants, including Neptune which has a similar mass, radius, density and rotation rate: (1) a relatively small internal heat flux and (2) a high obliquity (i.e. a large inclination of the equator to the orbital plane). For the other giant planets the emitted heat flux is greater than the absorbed solar flux, so that atmospheric temperatures are significantly greater than the solar equilibrium temperature. (Indeed Neptune, which receives less than half the solar flux of Uranus, is warmed to almost Uranian temperatures by its large internal heat.) For Uranus the internal heat flux is less than 14% of the solar input (Pollack et al., 1986; Pearl et al., 1990). The high obliquity of 98° means that Uranus essentially rotates on its side, so that each pole and the equator alternately...

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© 1997 Chapman & Hall

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Baines, K.H. (1997). Uranus: Atmosphere . In: Encyclopedia of Planetary Science. Encyclopedia of Earth Science. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-4520-4_426

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-4520-4_426

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-0-412-06951-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4020-4520-2

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