A huge collision is enough to throw Uranus out of its rotation and change the planet’s behavior forever, according tomedia, which may explain a long-standing mystery about the eccentric lying ice giant. A new study digs deeper into the theory that, like what happened on Earth billions of years ago, a huge celestial collision could have caused strange behavior on the planet.
Uranus is an ice giant, the fourth largest planet in the solar system, with the coldest atmosphere and the third largest radius. But the planet’s unusual axis of rotation has left scientists wondering.
Like other planets in the solar system, including Earth, Uranus orbits the sun on the same plane. Unlike other planets, however, Uranus’s own rotation does not occur when the poles are perpendicular to the plane. Instead, it is tilted, about 98 degrees.
As for why this happens, scientists from the Institute of Earth Life Sciences (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology believe they have a strong answer. They believe Uranus was involved in a huge collision that was hit by a smaller frozen planet in the early days of the solar system. They believe it’s enough to turn Uranus upside down and create countless satellites.
Such things have actually happened on other planets, such as Earth’s moons, which are thought to have split from Earth when a Mars-sized object hit the earth about 4.5 billion years ago. But Uranus has 27 satellites, all of which orbit at the same angle as Uranus, so that means it needs a bigger collision.
The mysterious ice planet that hit Uranus is believed to be 1-3 times the mass of Earth.
The ELSI team, led by Professor Ida Shigeru, concluded that Uranus itself retained most of it after the impact, while leaving smaller but more satellites around it.
“This model explains for the first time the configuration of the Uranus satellite system, which may help explain the configuration of other ice-state planets in our solar system, such as Neptune,” Says Professor Ida. Observations suggest that many of the newly discovered planets, the super-Earths in the exoplanet system, may be made up mainly of water ice, a model that could also be applied to these planets. “