Uranus Experienced a Gigantic Pounding — Most Likely Made of Rock and Ice, Roughly Twice as Massive as Earth, 4 Billion Years Ago


Okay, stop your giggling, we’re all adults here. The fact is that Uranus is an unusual planet in our solar system. The planet has a strange tilt and rotates around the sun on its side. Each pole of Uranus faces the Sun for 42 years before switching to the other side.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

So why does Uranus tilt? Scientists have long suspected that a major collision at some point in history caused the planet’s unusual orientation. And they were right. Astronomers at Durham University in England led an international team of researchers and studied 50 different possible impact scenarios.

Photo Credit: Durham University

The team concluded that a huge rock and ice formation twice the size of Earth hit Uranus during the formation of the solar system about 4 billion years ago. The impact caused Uranus’ tilt and also the planet’s low temperatures.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The researchers believe that debris from the collision might act as a thermal shield, and that the heat from Uranus’ interior is trapped, making the planet’s outer atmosphere very cold. The team also believes that the impact could be the explanation for Uranus’ rings and moons.