Saturday, July 7, 2018

Study Bolsters Theory That Uranus Collided with Huge Object Billions of Years Ago

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


 According to a new study performed by a team led by researchers at Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology, many of Uranus' abnormal properties were caused by a collision with a huge object - about twice the size of Earth.
 Using a high-powered supercomputer, the team ran a never-before-done simulation of massive collisions. This simulation showed that the primary suspect of a collision with Uranus might have been a young protoplanet, primarily made up of rock and ice.
 Some of the effects of this collision include the planet's extreme tilt and its abnormal magnetic field. Unlike other planets in the solar system, the planet has an axial tilt of 97.77° . Furthermore, whenever Uranus completes a rotation, its magnetic field tumbles around, opening and closing periodically as the magnetic field lines disconnect and reconnect.
 Furthermore, the simulation demonstrates that when the collision occurred, some of the debris from the impact may have formed a thin shell that continues to trap heat radiating from the planet's core. This could provide a partial explanation to Uranus' extremely cold outer atmosphere.
 Other oddities explained by the simulation include the formation of the planet's moons and the rotation of its moons. The researchers believe that the impact could have knocked rock and ice into the young planet's orbit, debris that later could have formed some of Uranus' 27 moons. This collision would have also changed the rotational speeds of any moons orbiting the planet at the time.

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