Astronomers Discover Cosmic ‘Superhighways’ For Fast Travel Through the Solar System

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    Invisible structures generated by gravitational interactions in the Solar System have created a “space superhighway” network, astronomers have discovered. ScienceAlert reports: By applying analyses to both observational and simulation data, a team of researchers led by Natasa Todorovic of Belgrade Astronomical Observatory in Serbia observed that these superhighways consist of a series of connected arches inside these invisible structures, called space manifolds — and each planet generates its own manifolds, together creating what the researchers have called “a true celestial autobahn.” This network can transport objects from Jupiter to Neptune in a matter of decades, rather than the much longer timescales, on the order of hundreds of thousands to millions of years, normally found in the Solar System. Finding hidden structures in space isn’t always easy, but looking at the way things move around can provide helpful clues. In particular, comets and asteroids. […] “More detailed quantitative studies of the discovered phase-space structures … could provide deeper insight into the transport between the two belts of minor bodies and the terrestrial planet region,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “Combining observations, theory, and simulation will improve our current understanding of this short-term mechanism acting on the TNO, Centaur, comet, and asteroid populations and merge this knowledge with the traditional picture of the long-term chaotic diffusion through orbital resonances; a formidable task for the large range of energies considered.” The research has been published in Science Advances. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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