Research reveals what causes Saturn’s rotation axis to tilt more and more

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Research reveals what causes Saturn’s rotation axis to tilt more and more

This mechanism is something called orbital resonance. As the heavenly bodies revolve around the sun and other celestial bodies, they will periodically “pull” each other. This is a very small pulling force, but over time, this can have a very large cumulative effect. The physical principle of orbital resonance is conceptually similar to a swing that drives children. The thrust can be very small, but there is a natural frequency between the track and the swinging swing. At this frequency, it will naturally vibrate, so every small thrust will have a cumulative effect.

This concept of orbital resonance explains many questions about how orbiting celestial bodies interact. Taking Saturn as an example, the research team found that the tilt of the planet’s rotation axis was not the result of the interaction with the gas giant Neptune 4 billion years ago, as previously thought, but was pulled by the moons of Saturn, especially its Titan, the largest satellite.

Research reveals what causes Saturn’s rotation axis to tilt more and more(1)

Scientists have determined through observation that Titan and Titan Other Saturn moons are migrating. Over time, they are moving away from Saturn, just as the moon is moving away from the earth. However, the satellites of Saturn are migrating faster than previously thought, causing the inclination of Saturn’s rotation axis to increase.

According to research, more than 3 billion years after the birth of Saturn, its rotation axis is only slightly inclined. Then, about 1 billion years ago, the motion of the satellite triggered orbital resonance, which from a cosmic perspective rapidly increased the tilt, and this tilt is still continuing. It is estimated that this tilt will become more pronounced in the next few billion years.

The research was published in the journal Natural Astronomy.