At the beginning of this year, the spacecraft New Horizons flew by the asteroid’s Ultima Thule. He became the most remote objectever studied by humans. All this time scientists have conducted studies of the asteroid to not only learn the history of this mysterious object, but another part of the origin of the Solar system. The first fruit is already assembled — the researchers were able to measure the parameters of a celestial body, estimated its age and, most importantly, put forward the theory of its origin.
After receiving the data and processing on Earth, the scientists came to the conclusion that the Ultima Thule (or object 2014 MU69) is cold body with a stable orbit, the shape of which is nearly circular. The inclination to the Ecliptic plane is not very strong, so the subject is not suffering from major disturbances since the formation of the Solar system, and its age therefore is about 4.5 billion years.
As for the size of the asteroid, it does not exceed 30 miles, consists of two “disks”, cobbled together with each other. The object has no satellites, dust clouds or atmosphere. What caused such an unusual form? According to researchers, the Ultima Thule was formed by coupling two separate celestial bodies that revolved around a common center of mass. The temperature of the body is about 42 degrees Kelvin.
The surface was dark because it reflects little light (the reflection coefficient does not exceed 12 percent). The object has homogeneous red color, due to the spectral studies, the researchers found the absorption lines of water and methanol.
It is noted that the study Ultima Thule is one of the most important for astronomy: this is divine, but never heated by the Sun to high temperatures, and therefore, it retains many of the properties of substances, thanks to which there was the formation of the Solar system. The object is in the Kuiper belt, at a distance of from 30 to 55 astronomical units from the Sun, beyond the orbit of Neptune.
Scientists continue to collect and process information about the new object and, quite possibly, will soon be able to come even closer to unraveling the origin of the Solar system. It is noteworthy that the main goal of New Horizons was the Pluto, but the vehicle passed him 4 years ago. Ultima Thule has become his next goal is the convergence took place on 1 January 2019. But since the subject is too far from earth, the data transfer would take about one year.
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