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Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur

New Study Says Several Knocks Might Have Tilted Uranus' Axis

Most folks don't generally give the humble planet Uranus much thought, except to make an off color homonym joke. However, Alessandro Morbidelli and his team at the Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur in France, think that they can overturn years of scientific speculation about the planet with a new theory of what caused the distant planet's bizarre spin. Uranus, unlike most planets in the solar system, has an axis tilted at 98º from the orbital plane from the sun. Nearly all planets are tilted to some degree -- the Earth's axis is 23º off, which gives us seasons -- but none quite as much as Uranus. To explain this bizarre situation, scientists had long assumed that Uranus was struck by a body more massive than the Earth that knocked the planet on its side. However, there have always been some problems with this theory.

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