The strange orientation of Uranus in relation to all the other planets of the Solar system always remained a mystery to scientists. Its axis of rotation lies like “on the side” relative to the plane of rotation of this planet around the Sun. As a result, the planet is facing the Sun alternately the North pole, the South, the equator, the middle latitudes. A group of researchers, consisting of astronomers at the University of Durham (England), experts from the Ames Research center (NASA), Washington University, Los Alamos national laboratory and the University of California believes he has found the explanation to this unusual position of the planet.
The study was managed by an international group of astronomer Jacob Kegerreis. According to scientists, such a strong tilt of its axis Uranus could acquire as a result of a collision with a large object in space, weight and size at least two times more than our Earth. To set this probability helped by computer simulation. About the research, astronomers said in a press release published on the website Phys.org.
Farewell the Uranium obtained by the spacecraft “Voyager 2” during the “departure” to the Neptune
Uranus is a unique planet. The plane of the equator of Uranus is inclined to the plane of its orbit at an angle 97,86 degrees — that is, the planet rotates retrograde, “lying on one side slightly head down”. The measurement of “Voyager-2” has allowed to detect the Uranium in a very specific magnetic field, which is not directed from the geometrical center of the planet and tilted by 59 degrees to the axis of rotation, said researcher NASA Jim green. It is also the only planet in the Solar system, which is not observed thermal radiation emanating from the nucleus. And yet Uranus has rings like Saturn. However, no such distinct.
Computer modelling showed that for this metamorphosis could cause a clash of Uranium with other larger celestial body. Moreover, changes in the inclination of the rotation axis of the planet could just a few hours, the researchers said.
A fragment of a computer simulation based on open code, SWIFT presented an astronomer at the University of Durham Jacob Kegerreis. Here shows the moment of collision of a celestial object with a planet Uranium. Kegerreis, notes that scientists have created a detailed computer model demonstrates how the cosmic cataclysm that occurred 3-4 billion years ago, changed the inclination of the axis of Uranus, the planet turning almost 90 degrees relative to its initial position. With a more detailed image can be found here
It is possible that the object that blow on Uranus is still somewhere in the Solar system, but is so far from Earth that it is impossible to see, added the researchers. This could explain some of the peculiarity of the orbit of the planet, and could correlate with the hypotheses about the presence in our system of a “Planet X”, whose orbit in the view of some scholars is located somewhere behind Pluto.
There is also the possibility that the Uranium could face at least a large object (about the size of Pluto) who “turned”, but scientists are more inclined to believe that the culprit is more massive celestial body.
A collision could have happened 3-4 billion years ago, before the Uranium appeared larger moons. At that time the planet was surrounded by a more distinct protoplanetary disk, which eventually formed its moons. After the planet acquired its unusual tilt, its gravity pulled him and 5 large moons, giving them the same slope, the researchers say. These changes could also lead to the fact that the planet was covered with an icy shell, holding the internal heat and not allowing him to come to the surface (the average temperature on Uranus is about -216 degrees Celsius), add the researchers.
And yet the final conclusions about the planet to do so far, scientists agree. In the end, the main stock of our knowledge about Uranium consists of observations of the spacecraft “Voyager-2”.
Focused mission to this mysterious world will help to solve all the puzzles, experts believe.