NASA reveals images of distant 'Snowman' shaped Ultima Thule

NASA's New Horizons rings in the new year with historic flyby 4 billion miles from the sun

The details of the shape conclusively answer the mystery of why New Horizons did not detect variations in Ultima Thule's brightness as it approached. "This is exactly what we need to move the modeling work on planetary formation forward".

New Horizons encountered Ultima 6.5 billion km from Earth.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated NASA's New Horizons team, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and the Southwest Research Institute for "making history". "Objects in the universe are the same way... they're dynamic".

After the quick flyby, New Horizons will continue on through the Kuiper Belt with other planned observations of more objects - but the mission scientists said this is the highlight. He joked that if they were cars, "you probably wouldn't fill out the insurance form".

One leading theory is that of pebble accretion, which posits that bits of raw planetary material of all shapes and sizes glommed onto each other until they became singular, gargantuan units.

If it is indeed a pristine planetesimal, a building block of the planets, studying it will offer clues to how Earth and its neighbors formed.

"Our solar system is four billion years old... so its initial conditions have been kind of washed out", Kalirai explains.

"The primary association of Thule and Ultima Thule are with travel and exotic places and cold places - it's associated with travel gear, it's associated often with distant places in Greenland", he told Newsweek.

The Kuiper Belt is the edge of our solar system, part of the original disk from which the sun and planets formed.

While some have compared Ultima Thule to a snowman, others to a peanut. The spacecraft zoomed within 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) of it, more than three times closer than the Pluto flyby.

Manchester City title defence 'almost impossible' without beating Liverpool - Guardiola
The last time they met, back on October 7, it finished 0-0 - and that scoreline doesn't do justice to just how poor a game it was. He has scored seven goals in 10 games since the start of November, and West Ham will be playing at home against Brighton.

New images of a mysterious world at the far reaches of our solar system show that it's shaped much like a snowman, with one large icy sphere attached to a smaller one. This "localized swarm", he says, created two separate orbs, each around 10 miles in diameter.

The team determined its colour by combining a sharp black and white image with a less-defined, but coloured, photograph.

The initial "bowling pin" image.

Nasa has released photos of its fly-by of Ultima Thule, the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft, revealing its ancient origin as two round objects squashed together. The smaller, 9-mile-wide mass was given the nickname "Thule".

New Horizons reached Pluto in July 2015 and revealed an incredible planet, rich in detail and structure.

Ultima Thule was first discovered by a telescope in 2014, and prior to New Horizons' flybly, scientists only had a blurry image of the object, which resembled a bowling pin.

One is that the Sun is so dim in this region that temperatures are down near 30-40 degrees above absolute zero. And it comes with a vivid choker of brightness encircling its slight neck. "New Horizons has set a new bar for state-of-the-art spacecraft navigation", said Stern. It's very sedate in the Kuiper belt.

But Ultima is a further 1.5 billion km further out.

These tantalizing tidbits are only the beginning. It'll take 20 months to send all 7 gigabytes of data - at which point New Horizons can start scanning space for its next destination.

A second shift of scientists worked on the data overnight, presenting more detailed analysis during a science team meeting Wednesday morning.

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