For hundreds of years, middle school science teachers have fought to get everyone to take Uranus seriously. It’s been an uphill battle, because Uranus is inherently funny. There’s the name. There’s the fact that it’s classified as a “gas giant.” And now, thanks to a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy, we know that the eighth planet actually smells like farts.
Science teachers, it’s time to give up. The battle is over.
The report, written by a team of researchers from the California Institute of Technology, the University of Oxford and the University of Leicester, confirmed what scientist and seven-year-olds have long suspected: the planet’s atmosphere is full of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), the stinky gas found in rotten eggs and your sphincter sneezes.
Pictured: The Butt Planet
The scientific community has long debated whether Uranus’s upper atmosphere consists of hydrogen sulfide or ammonia, and this study finally confirms that it’s the former. To analyze the atmosphere on Uranus, which is 2.6 billion kilometers away from Planet Earth, scientists used the Gemini North telescope, which is normally used to study, you guessed it, black holes. The team used the Gemini’s infrared scope to spectroscopically “dissect” the light bouncing off the atmosphere.
Picrtured: the Gemini North, aka a $184 million fart detector.
It’s also important to note that even though the atmosphere is made from the same stuff as farts, nobody is in danger of catching a bad whiff. “If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus’s clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions,” said Oxford’s Patrick Irwin. “Suffocation and exposure in the negative 200 degrees Celsius atmosphere made of mostly hydrogen, helium, and methane would take its toll long before the smell.”
So if you ever do make it to Uranus, leave the space suit on.
Pictured: Hydrogen sulfide, aka the interplanetary fart
The scientists say their discovery has a number of implications. It sheds light on how and when the planet was formed, and it could be used to understand similar conditions on similar planets far away from our solar system.
I just hope this discovery removes some of the stigma around farting. Maybe one day, if you let one fly at an inopportune time, you can say, “I wasn’t being rude. I was creating a new planet. With my butt.”