Tilting the Planet Uranus [Video]

Uranus along with its moons have left astronomer perplexed for they orbit the sun tilted almost entirely on their side. The seventh planet in our solar system has a tilt axis of ninety-eight degrees while Earths tilt is a mere twenty-three degrees. None of the other planets in our solar system come remotely close to such degrees. Since Uranus discovery by William Herschel in 1781, twenty-seven moons have been discovered. The first and largest of the satellites, Titania and Oberon, were also discovered by William Herschel.

The following moon discoveries would come decades after the initial discovery of the strangely tilting planet. NASA deployed space craft Voyager 2 in 1977 designed to target beyond Jupiter and out to the far edges of the solar system. As the only craft to have visited Uranus, the voyager discovered the planet’s position has an effect on the tail of the magnetic field in which the filed too has been found to be tilted but only to a sixty degrees of the axis of Uranus.

This magnetic field sits behind Uranus, and due to the planet’s rotation, the field has been corkscrewed. Early studies have led astronomers to theorize that a major collision with a proto planet roughly the size of the Earth could be a possible explanation to this phenomenon. Until recently, this theory has stood unchallenged and widely accepted as a probable cause of the planets condition by the scientific community.

A study conducted by the Observatory de la Cote d’Azur in Nice France has brought forth new speculation regarding the origins of the tilt. Study leader Alessadro Moribidelli postulates the tilting over of Uranus was not from a single collision but that of many smaller impacts. After a series of computer simulation conducted by the Morbidelli research team results proved surprising. Undergoing various observations of a single impact scenario, they found this to have a high probability of it having been the cause to the planets tilted formation. This impact is speculated to have caused this only during its initial formation during the early stages of the solar system.

Although these results allude to only support the original tilting theory the experiments had but one drawback. The simulation results failed to explain how the moons of Uranus share the same tilt. Further research details that in the given magnetic field they would display a retrograde orbit, in which opposes that of the Uranus’s own orbit. This observation has led astronomers to believe that the entire tilting of Uranus and its moons were engaged in a series of smaller collisions its formation causing the planet to tilt and the moons forming from the dust and formed under the same gravitational pull and magnetic field setting them to their current tilt.

This new process of the tilting of Uranus suggests that the early state of the solar system may have been set in a more volatile setting. According to Morbidelli the formation of the planets typically underwent significant impacts in light of the previous theory and advocates a revision to the standard theory of planetary emergence.

By Ernesto Perez

Solar Systems–NASA
Solar Views

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