Tech & Science We Might Finally Know What Smacked Uranus Sideways

04:06  03 july  2018
04:06  03 july  2018 Source:   popularmechanics.com

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Now we may well know at least one of the reasons the ice giant is so weird—but plenty of other oddities are likely locked deep within Uranus . We Finally Know What Car Homer Simpson Drives. Don't Call That North Korean Missile an ICBM.

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a close up of a light© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Most planets have poles roughly aligned with the sun's, which we have labelled north and south. Not Uranus. For whatever reason, the seventh planet from the sun has always rolled on its side, throwing off all sorts of strange magnetic activity in the meantime. It's unlikely Uranus was tilted when it formed, and astronomers have struggled to understand the cause.

New research published today in the Astrophysical Journal suggests that Uranus got hit by a planet twice the size of Earth long ago. This collision could have radically changed the planet, resulting in its telltale tilt and making it relatively frigid compared to farther-out Neptune.

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While this might sound like the punchline to an immature joke, NASA and the Gemini Observatory finally confirmed that Uranus smells like rotten eggs earlier this week.

Uranus is about 14 times the mass of Earth and around four times more voluminous. Whatever hit Uranus is thought to have been between two or three Earth-masses. Such an object would have been sufficient mass and size to create a big collision, but small enough to strip Uranus of less than 10 percent of its atmosphere.

The object, according to the research, is likely closer to two Earth masses, as this would have kicked up more of the gas and dust that went on to form the inner Uranian moons. Uranus has 27 moons, but 13 of them are considered "inner" moons. Some of the mass from the planet would have been incorporated into Uranus, some went into the moons, and the rest possibly escaped the system entirely.

Planetary collisions in the early solar system weren't uncommon. The moon probably formed from another protoplanet smashing into the young Earth, and a runaway planet has long been the suspected culprit behind the odd tilt of Uranus. The new study bolsters that hypothesis and gives a good range for the mass of the object-which also explains where some of the objects between the size of Earth and Neptune disappeared to.

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We Finally Know How Uranus Got Its Moons. A new study finds that a collision with large, foreign object did more than just tip a young Uranus on its side , causing it to spin 98 degrees off its orbital plane with the sun.

The thinking has always been that one giant volcanic eruption created the Yellowstone Caldera or volcanic crater in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming – but new research suggests we might have been thinking too small.

Now we may well know at least one of the reasons the ice giant is so weird-but plenty of other oddities are likely locked deep within Uranus.

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