Neptune’s largest moon Triton undergoes seasonal variations just like the Earth and is presently experiencing summer in its southern hemisphere, astronomers have found.
In a first-ever infrared analysis of Triton’s atmosphere with the help of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the researchers have found presence of frozen nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane on the moon’s thin surface which turn into gas as the southern hemisphere warms up by the Sun. The thin, icy atmosphere then thickens as the season advances during Neptune’s 165-year orbit around the Sun.
“We have found real evidence that the Sun still makes its presence felt on Triton, even from so far away. This icy moon actually has seasons just as we do on Earth, but they change far more slowly,” said Emmanuel Lellouch, lead author of the paper reporting the results in Astronomy & Astrophysics journal.