Scientists Explain Why Uranus is Tilted

Uranus lies on its side.  It has an axial tilt of over 90 degrees relative to the plane of the solar system.   As a result, each pole gets 42 YEARS of continuous sunlight, followed by 42 years of continuous darkness.  It has always been assumed that during the formation of the solar system, a protoplanet collided with Uranus, knocking it askew.

Now, two astronomers at the Observatoire de Paris in France have proposed a mechanism to explain this unusual orientation:
Boue and Laskar's idea is that Uranus once had a moon of the required size and orbit, which caused the planet to tilt during the planetary migration, but that this moon was ejected during a close encounter towards the end of the migration.

This thesis has been supported by computer modeling, and it offers an additional benefit of explaining why Uranus has rings but not another moon.

The planet was named for the Latinized form of the Greek god of the sky, but the pronunciation of the planet's name has always been the source of some embarassment to English-speaking astronomers because the public does not appreciate that the emphasis should be on the first syllable.

Link and image credit to MIT's Technology Review.

Scientists have just discovered a new moon after extensive probing of Uranus, and are naming it "But Tholay", the correct spelling of which is "Butthole"
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"the public does not appreciate that the emphasis should be on the first syllable"

So it's YOUR-anus, not your-ANUS? How does that help??

Maybe Futurama had the right idea - we should rename it to Urectum.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Reminds me of high-school joke invented (?) by my brother ca. 1975:

Q: If humanoids live on earth, where do hemorrhoids live?
A: They live on Uranus (your anus).

Oh well. Those were the days.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 21 comments

Email This Post to a Friend
"Scientists Explain Why Uranus is Tilted"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More