NASA has announced that it will award the Distinguished Public Service Medal, its highest honor, to astronomer Yervant Terzian, the Tisch Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Professor…
A new study has found out that the collision of Uranus could have led to the planet’s extreme tilt and other odd attributes. [Uranus is so weird because of a massive collision billions of years ago].
“All of the planets in the solar system are spinning more or less in the same way … yet Uranus is completely on its side,” Jacob Kegerreis, the new study’s lead author and a researcher at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology in the U.K., says.
According to this new study, astronomers search for explaining many of the planet’s odd features by attributing them to a collision with a massive, icy object about 4 billion years ago.
“Scientists used a high-resolution simulation to confirm that an object twice the size of Earth collided with Uranus and altered its tilt”, mentions space.com.
The researchers supposed that this object was possibly a young protoplanet, made up of rock and ice. This collision of Uranus is “pretty much the only way” that we can explain Uranus’ tilt, Kegerreis said.
It’s likely that this type of event isn’t uncommon in the universe: “All the evidence points to giant impacts being frequent during planet formation, and with this kind of research, we are now gaining more insight into their effect on potentially habitable exoplanets,” Luis Teodoro, study co-author and researcher at the BAER/NASA Ames Research Center, said in the statement.
Following to this research, when the object hits Uranus, the debris from the impact may have formed a thin shell. This is the explanation why Uranus’ outer atmosphere is extremely cold.
[According to Kegerreis, this collision could also explain two other oddities about the tilted planet. First, it could explain how and why some of Uranus’ moons formed. The researchers think that the impact could have knocked rock and ice into the young planet’s orbit — debris that later became some of Uranus’ 27 moons. Additionally, they think that the collision could have altered the rotation of any moons that already existed at the time. Last year, a separate study also explored this aspect of the collision], indicates space.com.