Making double planets
Explore the formation of Pluto's Charon and Earth's Moon with computer simulations.
April 21, 2006
|How do astronomers explore events that occurred billions of years ago, involved energies we can hardly imagine, and transformed a portion of a planet into molten rock? |
The best way to date is through detailed computer simulations. Astronomers encode the rules of physics into a model that includes characteristics of a planet's composition, such as rock or ice; the effects of gravity; the sizes, speed, and masses of planet and impactor; and many other parameters. Then they set up the collision and watch what happens.
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