PARIS, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Jupiter and Saturn may have played a game of cosmic “pinball” with the planet Uranus before finally tossing it into its present orbit, French researchers say.
Computer simulations have shown that Jupiter and Saturn moved out of their orbits in the early history of the solar system, scattering other nearby orbiting objects, NewScientist.com reports.
Alessandro Morbidelli of the Cote d’Azur Observatory in France says simulations show Uranus crossing the path of Saturn, which could then have flung it towards Jupiter, which lobbed it back to Saturn.
The process might have repeated itself three times before Uranus was finally thrown beyond Saturn to where it now resides, the simulations show.
Morbidelli says the simulation of this pinball game, which would have lasted just 100,000 years, fits with observations.
“The evolution of the giant planets has been more violent than we thought,” Morbidelli says.
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