If you have ever had the pleasure of driving fast on an empty road, imagine doing the same on an expressway in space.
In a recent study, a group of astronomers claimed to have discovered a network of “astronomical highways” that would allow spacecraft to send to remote parts of the solar system at unprecedented speeds.
Researchers’ calculations suggest that an asteroid could travel from Jupiter to Neptune in less than a decade through these superhighways.
An object traveling for a century on the celestial highway can cover a distance of 15 billion kilometers, which is equal to 100 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
But how do these cosmic roads work and what do they teach us about the universe?
An invisible corridor
“For simplicity, these highways are produced by planets,” says Aaron Rosengren, one of the authors of the study of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, San Diego, USA.
These express routes are formed by gravitational attraction between the planets, thus forming an invisible corridor that originates from the asteroid belt located beyond Uranus between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.
In computer simulations and analyzing millions of orbits in the solar system, experts noted that arcs are formed around each planet, which in turn are called “space collectors”.
Arcs and collectors are formed by the interaction of gravity between two objects that are in orbit.
In this way, a “gravity corridor” is generated, as described by Shane Ross, an aerospace engineer at Virginia Tech University, in an article on the Live Science Portal.
This video shows how arcs are formed on a space collector over a period of 120 years:
Although they are invisible, computer simulations showed how the trajectory of particles exposed to planets such as Jupiter, Uranus or Neptune was affected when entering the collectors.
In addition, he notes that “each planet generates these arcs and all of these structures can interact with each other to produce complex transport routes,” Rosengren explains.
Scientists already knew that each planet could build its own “circuit of celestial roads”, but now they have only discovered that these pathways can intersect with other planets and thus create a more complex network Huh.
Great Highway of Jupiter
The largest number of highways discovered by researchers was found in the area where Jupiter’s gravitational force, the solar system’s largest planet, impacts.
Jupiter collectors may be the explanation for the behavior of comets and asteroids that hover around the planet before filming out of orbit.
“It is amazing that collectors that originate from Jupiter can enter the solar system,” Rosengren writes in Live Science.
Understanding how this network of highways works, including those close to the Earth, may be the key to using them as fast routes for space travel that can advance in a short period of time.
In addition, the study’s authors point out, it can be useful to monitor the trajectory of objects that may hit our planet, as well as to monitor the increasing number of artificial satellites floating between Earth and the Moon. Can also be for