Here’s How Uranus Ended up Lopsided

Uranus is the only known planet that oddly spins on its side.

No other planet in the entire solar system presents this characteristic, and scientists have long wondered why and how.

Now, scientists believe that Uranus, as well as its five moons, are titled on their side because a massive object impacted the planet around 3-4 billion years ago.

According to new computer simulations, a massive object, perhaps twice as big as Earth impacted the Gas giant billions of years ago, causing it to tilt on its side.

Gravity then did the rest and the planet’s moons followed the path of their home planet.

Aurorae on Uranus taken by the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) installed on Hubble. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Aurorae on Uranus taken by the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) installed on Hubble. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Detailed computer simulations from researchers at Durham University suggest the massive rock crashed into the seventh planet from its sun leaving a permanent mark, not only on the planet, its moons but the entire solar system.

The new study was presented by Ph.D. researcher at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology Jacob Kegerreis at the earth and space science conference.

“We ran more than 50 different impact scenarios using a high-powered supercomputer to see if we could recreate the conditions that shaped the planet’s evolution,” said Kegerris.

“Our findings confirm that the most likely outcome was that the young Uranus was involved in a cataclysmic collision with an object twice the mass of Earth, if not larger, knocking it on to its side and setting in process the events that helped create the planet we see today.”

Uranus, the giant blue planet is the seventh planet in our solar system and happens to be tiled about ninety degrees on its side.

Curiously, the planets magnetic field also seems to be also lopsided and doesn’t go out the poles as the magnetic field of our planet, explained NASA chief scientist Jim Green.

What’s even stranger, Uranus is also the only planet in our solar system that doesn’t have its interior heat escape from the core.

Kegerreis suggest that his computer simulations suggest that the collision and reshaping of the planet occurred in a matter of hours.

The researcher produced an animation showing the catastrophic collision and its aftermath.

Experts further believe that the object which impacted Uranus may still be around. Scientists believe that the object may lurk still somewhere in our solar system, waiting to be discovered.

Green argues that the existence of such an object could help explain some of the orbits of the planet and fit with a theory that a missing planet X is circling the sun well beyond Pluto, he said.

Durham University
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