WASHINGTON — NASA reports that astronomers have detected X-rays from Uranus for the first time, using its Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and has two sets of rings around its equator.
The planet is four times the diameter of Earth and rotates on its side, making it different from all other planets in the solar system.
This distant and cold planet is made up almost entirely of hydrogen and helium.
So, what could cause Uranus to emit X-rays?
The answer is, mainly the Sun.
Astronomers have observed that both Jupiter and Saturn scatter X-ray light given off by the Sun, similar to how Earth's atmosphere scatters the Sun's light.
One other possibility is that the rings of Uranus are producing X-rays themselves, which is the case for Saturn's rings.
Uranus is surrounded by charged particles such as electrons and protons in its nearby space environment.
If these energetic particles collide with its rings, that could cause the rings to emit X-ray radiation.