(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers believe that an object that was twice the size of Earth crashed into the planet Uranus. The object consisted of either stone or ice. Reported by the Daily Star.
A new study by University of Durham scientist Jacob Kegerreis shows that about four billion years ago, the planet could have been hit by an object made of rock or ice.
The experts who published the results of their work in the Astrophysical Journal used 50 different collision scenarios to make such an unexpected conclusion. The study also showed that the debris left over from the impact acts as a heat shield for the planet, which is likely due to its cold outer atmosphere.
Kegerreis said: “Uranus rotates on its side, its axis is directed almost at right angles to all other planets in the solar system. It was almost certainly caused by a giant impact, but we know very little about how it actually happened and how else such a powerful event affected the planet. As a result of the impact, a protective coating of debris could have formed. ”
“Our results confirm that the most likely outcome was that young Uranus was involved in a catastrophic collision with an object twice the mass of Earth, if not more, knocking it on its side and triggering events that helped create the planet we see today.”
Previously, Kegerreis and his team, with the help of a supercomputer, discovered that such impacts could have a “wide range of consequences” for young planets and their atmospheres.
More than 100 detailed simulations of various giant collisions on Earth-like planets have been performed, with small changes made each time, such as changing the speed and angle of impact.
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