Scientists from the National Center for Scientific Research and the Sorbonne University (France) have found the cause of Saturn’s tilt. The study showed that it is related to its satellites.
Recent observations have shown that Titan and other satellites are gradually moving away from Saturn much faster than has been assumed. Scientists have made calculations and concluded that this process affects the tilt of the axis of rotation of the gas giant. With the removal of satellites, the planet tilts more and more.
The authors of the scientific paper concluded that during the first three billion years of Saturn’s existence, its axis remained stable. But about a billion years ago, the gradual migration of the satellites, as well as the gravitational influence of Neptune caused a resonance phenomenon, which continues to this day. Saturn’s axis began to gradually change until it reached an inclination of 27 degrees.
Previously, scientists believed that Saturn’s axis had reached stability. But in fact, as new data has shown, it is still in a “transitional period.” Over the next few billion years, its tilt could more than double.
Interestingly, a similar scenario awaits Jupiter. Because of the migration of the four largest satellites and resonance with the orbit of Uranus in the next five billion years, the inclination of Jupiter’s axis may increase from 3 to more than 30 degrees.