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Finally we are Learning More about MU69, the Strange, Flat Rock in the Outer Solar System



New Horizons's new scientific missions launch the first peer-reviewed results from their 2014 MU69 study, showing how "this" is clean.

(486958) 2014 MU69, with the nickname Ultima Thule, looks like a pair of stones already thrown away, each at around 10 miles. The Sun is orbiting at a distance of approximately 4 billion miles (Pluto orbit around 3.7 billion miles). It seems that it remains somewhat unchanged from the earliest solar system, and it has shown some surprises when the New Horizon spacecraft sent first-back images-and now, first results are published and vetted. But things are just beginning with this group.

"The sun is huge," said Alan Stern, chief investigator of the New Horizons mission, to Gizmodo. "We only get to the point where we can get our breath."

Astronomer Marc Buie discovered pixel-wide MU69 using the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014, and New Horizons scientists set their sights on the spacecraft after a successful capturing images of the dwarf Pluto planets. The thing is a cool classical thing that the Kuiper Belt, which means it is orbits the Sun in a relatively circular, unsafe orbit. Unhappy is the kind of theme when it comes to this rock; the authors of the study are called "clean." Actually, it's like a time capsule from the beginning of the solar system that has not changed the Sun's influence or other planets.

New Horizons flew by item and took detailed observations on January 1, 2019, and today, mission scientists unveiled their first published set of peer-reviewed results in the journal Science. Their first study revealed some important things: First, the thing is a bi-lobed binary contact, meaning it's two stones that are disturbing somewhat slowly. Surprisingly, the stones are dumb, not spherical. Secondly, there is no evidence of rings, satellites, dust, a gas atmosphere, or any interaction with the solar wind. Third, light and texture seem to be different from the whole thing, with pits and lighter spaces of bright material, but the composition itself does not look different.

These are only initial results, and scientists will be downlinking data from New Horizons to at least another year . But researchers are trying to understand the story of MU69. The object seems to have formed after two nearby different clouds of rocks together under the influence of gravity, and then slowly combined with one another.

Scientists studying planetary formation are excited about the idea of ​​this world being clean. "We see something more or less this way at the end of the formation of the planet, which is formed where it is today," Christa Van Laerhoven, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia that is not affiliated with the New team of Horizons, told Gizmodo. He explained that MU69 has a fairly large size for electromagnetism to be dominant force and relatively small for the effects of gravity to take, meaning it can provide more data to help understanding the process of building the planet.

And the thin shape of the object is much more mysterious. "It's a wonder that there is something flat on the outer solar system," Kat Volk, associate staff scientist at the University of Arizona who is not on the New Horizons team, told Gizmodo. Physicists usually say things in space are spherical, so some thoughts will come to understand how MU69 is finished looking for the way it does.

However, this is only one thing, so we can not generally have the rest of the Kuiper Belt. "If we see more of them, that's really good," Volk says. "Especially in this dimension that is hard to see from the ground [on Earth.]"

The New Horizons team intends to continue studying the objects of the Kuiper Belt and the intervening space, and can still plan a flyby of another thing as the spacecraft continues its journey from the Sun, says Stern. But before that, there are certainly more mysteries waiting just to be found in the data already downloaded.


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