Neptune may have polished off a super-Earth that once roamed the outer solar system and stolen its moon to boot. The brutal deed could explain mysterious heat radiating from the icy planet and the odd orbit of its moon Triton.
Neptune’s own existence was a puzzle until recently. The dusty cloud that gave birth to the planets probably thinned out further from the sun. With building material so scarce, it is hard to understand how Uranus and Neptune, the two outermost planets, managed to get so big.
But what if they formed closer in? In 2005, a team of scientists proposed that the giant planets shifted positions in an early upheaval(New Scientist, 25 November 2006, p 40). In this scenario, Uranus and Neptune formed much closer to the sun and migrated outwards, possibly swapping places in the process.
That would have left behind enough material just beyond their birthplace to form a planet with twice the Earth’s mass, according to calculations published in 2008 by Steven Desch of Arizona State University in Tempe.
Neptune’s peculiar moon Triton may once have been paired with this hypothetical super-Earth, Desch and colleague Simon Porter now say. Triton is larger than Pluto, and it moves through its orbit in the opposite direction to Neptune’s rotation, suggesting that it did not form there but was captured instead.
For Neptune to capture Triton, the moon would have had to slow down drastically. One way to do this is for Triton to have had a partner that carried away most of the pair’s kinetic energy after an encounter with Neptune. In 2006 researchers argued that Triton was initially paired with another object of similar size that wound up being gravitationally slung into space after the pair ventured near Neptune (New Scientist, 13 May 2006, p 8).
But Triton could have slowed even more if its former partner were a heavy super-Earth. That’s because a more massive body could carry away more of the pair’s kinetic energy, Desch calculated in a study presented earlier this month at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas. “It would be a lot easier to capture Triton if it were orbiting something bigger,” he says.
Neptune may have engulfed the super-Earth. Heat left over from the impact could explain why the planet radiates much more heat than its cousin Uranus, which is similar in mass and composition, Desch says.
But Douglas Hamilton of the University of Maryland, College Park, one of the authors of the 2006 study proposing that Triton had a long-lost twin, points out that smaller bodies would have been common in the early solar system, before planet migration cleared many of them away. Neptune would therefore have had many opportunities to snag Triton from one of these punier objects, rather than from a much rarer super-Earth, so that explanation may still be more likely, he says. Even so, he is not ready to rule out Desch’s idea: “It’s worth pursuing to see where it will lead.”
“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I’ll never forget a single moment of it.”—Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) (via kari-shma)
It’s a horrible Existential crisis, and I’m proud to say I actually know what that is, and it’s not something I just assumed or looked up. I’m very glad i took my existentialism and film class. It was a real eye opener, but anyway, I digress.
My life for the past month has been full of changes, most of which I was not prepared to handle. And since this life is a nonstop ride, things keep changing, and I’m stuck here trying to make sense of it all.
I’m not exactly sure what I can do to better my situation. I go out and have fun now and again, but I find myself clinging to hope for things in the future, and the joys of the past. I never really experience the here and now.
I need to sort things out in my life and figure out where I want to be headed. Right now I’m on a collision course with a shrink and meds if I don’t pull it all together.
I just need to know that I have a purpose, and that I’m needed right now. That things will somehow get better and as long as I keep my chin up, I’ll be able to wade through all the chaos and find the meaning.
I think I’ll end my ranting now, because sometimes I don’t even make sense to myself.
“What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain knowledge must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. … I certainly do not deny that I still recognize an imperative of knowledge and that through it one can work upon men, but it must be taken up into my life, and that is what I now recognize as the most important thing.”—Søren Kierkegaard, Letter to Peter Wilhelm Lund dated August 31, 1835
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald (via quotewhore)
Fuck feeling inadequate. Fuck laying in bed thinking about everything you’re not doing. Fuck feeling like time is running out. Fuck self image. Fuck his perfect face. Fuck your unwashed hair. Fuck not trying hard enough. Fuck the internet. Fuck colds. Fuck being alone. Fuck loneliness. Fuck having to do it all over again tomorrow. Fuck youth. This isn’t youth. This isn’t freedom and weightlessness. Fuck not feeling young. Fuck you. Fuck me. Someone please fuck me. Fuck this.