Why is this planet so weird? It has a very different way of spinning, it that is what made researchers theorize what made it spin on its side. According to Great Lakes Ledger, the astronomy researcher Jacob Kegerreis and his team at Durham University ran an analysis and detailed computer simulations, concluding that a big rock that was at least twice as big as our planet hit it Uranus 3 – 4 billion years ago.
The Odd Planet
There is no other weirder planet like Uranus in our Solar System, and the collision could explain the oddity. It has a tilt of 90 degrees and its five moons also have it too. Jim Green, the NASA chief scientist, explains that the magnetic field is also lopsided and it doesn’t go out of the poles as our magnetic field does. Uranus keeps all the heat from the core inside, and it also has faint rings similar to the ones Saturn has.
Planetary scientist Scott Sheppard (Carnegie Institution) was not part of this study, but added that “it’s very strange.”
According to Kegerreis’ computer simulations, the moment that the rock hit Uranus was when the planet got reshaped – all this event taking place in a matter of hours.
Green believes that this big object that hit Uranus in the past could still be in our solar system, but it is too far away for scientists to see. The existence of such a rock would explain the orbit of the planet and the missing planet X that circles the sun behind Pluto.
The Five Large Moons Are Also Tilted
Kegerreis said that the collision happened before Uranus’ larger moons formed from the disk of stuff around it. As a reaction to the gravitational tidal force, the five large moons around the planet followed the tilt. Uranus’ central heat also got locked after the collision which created the icy surface, added Kegerreis.
Both Uranus and Neptune are, according to Sheppard, the “least understood planets,” so every clue we get about them is something worth exploring and theorizing. However, scientists wish the next robotic probes to be sent to these planets to find out more about them and the beginning of our planetary system.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.