Skip to comments.Did an ancient impact bowl Pluto over?
Posted on 10/30/2007 7:29:02 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Pluto and its large moon Charon may have been bowled over when they were struck by wayward space rocks in the past, a new study suggests. If so, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft may find evidence of these rolls when it arrives at the distant worlds in 2015. Jay Melosh of the University of Arizona in Tucson, US, first suggested about 30 years ago that the basins gouged out by impacts would redistribute the mass of planetary bodies, causing them to roll over to re-stabilise themselves... Now, Francis Nimmo of the University of California in Santa Cruz, US, who led the Moon and Enceladus studies, says impacts may also have caused Pluto and Charon to flip over on their sides. The two distant bodies may have been especially prone to this reorientation because they spin relatively slowly, rotating once every 6.4 days... "Slow spinners are more unstable on their axes than fast spinners." ... "One [prediction] is that there will be a network of tectonic fractures caused by the satellites rolling over," Nimmo says, explaining that their 'equatorial bulges' - a widening at their equators due to their rotations - would create stresses when their equators shifted position. A second is that the leading face - the region facing forwards [in their orbits] - of Pluto and Charon will not be as heavily cratered as one would expect because before they tilted over, the leading face was somewhere else. A third is that the gravity field of Pluto and Charon will be bumpy."
(Excerpt) Read more at space.newscientist.com ...
A big impact may have caused Pluto to tilt over by 10°. Chances are that such an impact occurred billions of years ago, but if one happened to strike within the past few million years, Pluto might still be wobbling on its axis today, say the researchers (Illustration: NASA/JPL)
No beer, you. ;’)
Ancient impact may have bowled the Moon over
New Scientist | April 17, 2007 | David Powell
Posted on 10/30/2007 10:39:35 PM EDT by SunkenCiv
Pluto has been taking public hits ever since it was sent to the corner with no dessert :(
ZetaTalk | written Apr 14, 2004 | Nancy Lieder
Posted on 12/30/2005 8:47:27 PM EST by SunkenCiv
...guess what else in the Solar System ‘wobbles’? What else is changing shape ( getting wider at the equator) and has ‘bumpy’ (anomalous) gravity?
I’ll give you a clue; It’s tilted too!
Doesn’t Pluto have around 4 moons now?
I think the count is three. Charon was discovered in 1978, the other two were found in the past couple of years (and simultaneously).
Seems like the perfect time to paste in a link to... ta dah! The Nine Planets!
Hey, I try to exercise, but it’s just difficult to fit it into my busy schedule. ;’)
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