New Horizons mission shines a light on how planets form

Pablo Tucker
February 17, 2020

Their analysis indicates that the lobes of this "contact binary" object were once separate bodies that formed close together and at low velocity, orbited each other, and then gently merged to create the 22-mile long object New Horizons observed.

Arrokoth is teaching the team how planetesimals formed, and they believe it is giving them advances in the understanding of overall planetesimal and planet formation.

Those results are detailed in three separate studies by three different teams, all published in Science, and when viewed collectively they have helped to paint a uniformed view of Arrokoth.

He calls this discovery a 'watershed moment.' The other prevailing theory was called hierarchical accretion, where objects from different areas of the solar nebula would collide to form an object.

After New Horizons spacecraft took the pictures, NASA scientists brought out a picture to show Arrokoth would have formed. The data enabled researchers to get a more complete picture of the object and determine more about its origin, formation, geology, composition, color and temperature.


The team reports those findings in a set of three papers in the journal Science, and at a media briefing February 13 at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle. "Unlike the high-speed collisions between planetesimals in hierarchical accretion, in particle-cloud collapse, particles merge gently, slowly growing larger".

'Planetesimals beforehand visited by space probes had been all badly battered by impactors or cooked by approaching too shut to the solar, ' stated planetary scientist and research co-author Will Grundy of Lowell Observatory in Arizona, a New Horizons mission co-investigator. "Arrokoth looks the way it does not because it formed through violent collisions, but in more of an intricate dance, in which its component objects slowly orbited each other before coming together".

Bit by bit, NASA's New Horizons probe is bringing into sharper focus the most distant space object ever explored by a spacecraft.

Astronomers announced on Thursday that the isolated, primitive cosmic object known as Arrokoth, is the most distant celestial body ever analyzed, and it is relatively smooth with just a few craters.

The latest Arrokoth reports significantly expand on the May 2019 Science paper, led by Stern.


Earlier research about Arrokoth had been based mostly on a small quantity of information despatched again by the spacecraft; however, the brand new particulars have been offered by greater than ten instances as a lot of information.

Despite the individual nature of each study, there was one recurring, underlying feature that lead them all to the same conclusion; Arrokoth looks and behaves the way it does because it formed in a local collapse cloud of the solar nebula.

In the meantime, New Horizons continues to observe the Kuiper Belt as it flies through the disk of icy objects at nearly 31,300 miles per hour (50,400 km/h). New Horizons also continues to map the charged-particle radiation and dust environment in the Kuiper Belt.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA's space snowman is revealing fresh secrets from its home far beyond Pluto. According to Fox News, this week NASA told in a statement that the New Horizons spacecraft zipped past Arrokoth - also classified as 2014 MU69 - on January 1, 2019, at a distance of 4 billion miles from our planet.

America's global space organization NASA has revealed new information on how planets were formed. The Marshall Space Flight Center Planetary Management Office provides the NASA oversight for the New Horizons.


In one study, researchers have been in a position to make use of knowledge from New Horizons to simulate the formation of the thing, which resembles a peanut or a snowman, relying on the way you have a look at it.

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