HomeSpace & AstronomyAstronomers found an explanation to Uranus’ Odd Axis

Astronomers found an explanation to Uranus’ Odd Axis

Although Uranus and Neptune are both ice giants in the solar system and have many similarities, the former still has unique quirks.

For example, the inclination angle between the rotation axis and the ecliptic plane is as high as 98 degrees, which is almost “lying” on the ecliptic plane and revolving around the sun.

A new study finds a plausible explanation for Uranus’ strange behavior: A moon once left Uranus, causing Uranus to be pulled over as the celestial body moved away.

The orbital plane of all the planets in the solar system revolving around the sun is called the ecliptic plane, and the rotation axis of the planets is inclined to the ecliptic plane, which is also the reason for the change in the length of the day and night on the earth.

Basically, all the planets in the solar system have orbital inclinations of less than 30 degrees—except for Uranus, which has an inclination of 98 degrees. In other words, Uranus rotates almost perpendicular to its orbit; furthermore, Uranus rotates clockwise, which is also opposite to the other planets.

Astronomers have long suspected that Uranus experienced a series of giant impacts in the early days of its formation, but this argument also has loopholes.

Because of the turbulence everywhere in the early solar system, even the earth may have been hit by a protoplanet to form the moon, but fortunately the earth has not been knocked down.

Neptune and Uranus are both ice giant planets, with similar atmospheres and magnetic fields, and similar size, mass and spin speed, but the orbital inclination of Neptune, which is the farthest from the sun, is also less than 30 degrees.

What exactly is causing Uranus to be so different?

New research points to a less violent cause: A moon that was once a close companion of Uranus has drifted away.

A few years ago, the team of astronomer Melaine Saillenfest at CNRS discovered something interesting about Jupiter,

As the number of Jupiter’s moons increases, the gas giant’s orbital inclination may increase from 3% to around 37% due to moon migration over billions of years;

Saturn currently orbits at an inclination of 26.7 degrees, likely the result of the rapid outward movement of its largest moon, Titan.

The planets in the early solar system were very close to the sun when they were formed, and gradually moved to the outer periphery as time passed. During the migration process, some planets and satellites were reshuffled. Uranus may have a satellite revolving around it very early.

According to the results of the team’s simulation using a series of parameters, it was found that if a moon with about half the mass of the moon ever orbited Uranus,

Moving away from Uranus by more than 10 times its radius at a rate of more than 6 centimeters per year would tilt Uranus by 90 degrees.

This single mechanism could tilt Uranus without causing a huge impact, although it’s unclear whether Uranus ever had a large enough moon, and more observations will be needed to prove this.

The new paper is published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics and also can be found on arXiv.

Steven L. Werner
Steven L. Werner
Steven has been writing about technology and science since he graduated from University. He is mostly focused on finding and researching for cutting-edge tech and most interesting innovations.

Follow us on Social Media!


Related Articles

NASA captures unusual close glimpse of black hole devouring a star

A rogue star recently eaten by a black hole may help scientists understand more complex black hole feeding.NASA's multiple telescopes recently observed a massive...

The Most Important space exploration Missions to watch in 2023

Following this year's milestones such as the launch of the Webb Space Telescope for scientific observation, the completion of China's Tiangong space station, and...

Gravitational waves from alien megaships can be detected across the Milky Way

Whether the earth is the only intelligent species in the universe has always been an unresolved question. After all, human search technology is limited...

2 Deep Ocean exoplanets are discovered by Hubble and Spitzer

The solar system contains planets of various characteristics, but lacks water planets that are almost completely covered by deep oceans. Recently, astronomers analyzed data from...

Explore More Articles

The night sky is full of black holes instead of stars

The night sky is full of black holes instead of stars

This is a seemingly ordinary starry sky photo (see the first picture), but it is a more special celestial body than luminous stars, that...

Sons of the Forest: The Best Places to Find Aloe Vera

If you want to find Aloe Vera in Sons of The Forest, this is the guide for you. Since you'll find yourself stranded on...

Sons of the Forest: How to Craft a Bone Armor?

Armor is surprisingly important in Sons of the Forest . If you plan on delving into the spooky caves that dot this new island, you'll want to...
Gene customizing and cloning business become more Popular

Gene customizing and cloning business becomes more Popular

Replicating beauty pageant camels, replicating equestrian racing horses, replicating high-yielding super cows... With the gradual popularization of animal replication technology, people can use technology...