TECH

Two Of Uranus' Moons Are On A Collision Course

06/09/2017 9:22 PM AEST | Updated 06/09/2017 9:22 PM AEST

Uranus will play host to a major astronomical bust-up as two of its moons are set to collide.

According to researchers at the University of Idaho Cressida and Desdemona will hurtle into each other in around a million years time.

It’s thought that the cause of this is actually Cressida’s own gravitational pull on one of Uranus’ rings.

NASA

The team discovered Desdemona’s sad fate after investigating Cressida’s mass and composition.

What they found was that one of Uranus’ rings was in fact slightly triangular, rather than a perfect circle. By travelling at the same speed as the ring, it turns out the tiny moon was in fact skewing the orbit of the ring at the same time.

By analysing the skew of the ring they were then able to determine Cressida’s mass as being just 1/300,000th that of Earth’s.

Although tiny, Uranus’ moons are extremely dense, and as they get denser the likelihood of them crashing into each other increases.

It’s not just Cressida and Desdemona that are doomed, two other moons Cupid and Bellinda are both set to collide with one another.

Historical via Getty Images
The planet Uranus, obscured except for a thin crescent, photographed by interplanetary probe Voyager 2 on January 25, 1986.

Incredibly we didn’t actually know Cressida existed until Voyager 2 arrived at Uranus in 1986 and confirmed the existence of 10 brand-new moons orbiting the giant.

Despite being over 2.8 billion kilometres from the Sun, Uranus actually has the third largest diameter of any planet in our solar system.

It’s also on a 90-degree tilt to its orbit around the Sun which makes it appear as though it’s rolling like a ball.

While Cressida and Desdemona have stolen the limelight Uranus actually has 27 moons in total with the majority of its inner moons having a composition that’s half ice and water.

Collisions between moons are, in astronomical terms, probably a common feature around Uranus as the most tightly packed group of them are all extremely close lying within just 11,184 miles of each other.

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