Neptune’s Journey From Inner To Outer Solar System Was Very Calm, Says Study

Posted: Apr 4 2017, 3:28pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Neptune’s Journey from Inner to Outer Solar System was Very Calm, Says Study
Credit: NASA

Latest study opens a new window into the early stages of planet growth

Neptune is the farthest planet from the sun. The plant is characterized by its dark color and turbulent atmosphere as it is whipped by the fastest winds in the solar system.

Today Neptune is the most distant planet in our solar system, but it was not always the case. It is believed that Neptune lied much closer to the sun during its early formation before migrating to its current position. And a new research suggests that this movement from inner to outer solar system may have been very smooth and calm.

Researchers have reached the conclusion after studying a region of space beyond Neptune. The region is known as Kuiper Belt and harbors more than 1,700 known icy objects, which are remnants of early solar system. Most of these objects are red in color. But during recent study, researchers have identified a small number of objects which are uniquely blue and orbiting around each other like a binary pair.

Until now, researchers assumed that these objects were originally formed in Kuiper Belt. But latest observations suggests that these odd pairs were actually born much closer to the Sun and then directed by Neptune's gravitational nudges onto their current orbit billions of years ago.

The fact that these pairs are not separated by the move and continued orbiting around each other suggests that Neptune’s transition from 20 AU to its current location at 30 AU was a calm and smooth one.

“This research has opened the window to new aspects of understanding the early stages of planet growth. We now have a solid handle on how and where these blue binaries originated,” said Dr Wes Fraser from Queen’s University Belfast. “There has been some evidence around how Neptune moved outwards to 30 AU. Our hypothesis about how these blue binaries came to be where they are requires that Neptune’s migration was largely a smooth and calm movement.”

Dr. Frazer is the project leader of Col-OSSOS’s “Colours of the Outer Solar Systems Origins Survey,” which intends to study the surface of poorly understood trans-Neptune objects by collecting data from two powerful telescopes: Gemini North and Canada-France-Hawaii. By using these unique telescopes, researchers were able to produce a unique finding with global impact.

“The novel program uses two-world class telescopes: the Gemini-North and Canada-France-Hawaii telescopes, simultaneously. In doing so, we are able to gather comprehensive spectral information spanning the ultra-violent, optical and near-infrared wavelength ranges,” said Frazer. “Without this program and the partners involved, this major research breakthrough would not have been possible.”

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