Earlier this year, the spacecraft NewHorizons flew asteroid Ultima Thule. He became the most distant object ever explored by humans. All this time, scientists have been researching an asteroid to not only learn the history of this mysterious object, but also about another detail of the origin of the solar system. The first fruit has already been collected - the researchers were able to measure the parameters of a celestial body, estimated its age and, most importantly, put forward a theory of its origin.
After receiving the data and processing it on Earth,scientists concluded that Ultima Thule (or object 2014 MU69) is a cold body with a stable orbit, the shape of which is close to a circle. The inclination to the ecliptic plane is not very strong, which means that the object has not suffered from serious 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 exceed30 kilometers, while it consists of two “disks”, stuck together with each other. The object has no satellites, clouds of dust or atmosphere. What caused such an unusual form? According to researchers, Ultima Tule was formed as a result of the coupling of two separate celestial bodies, which circulated around a common center of mass. Body temperature is about 42 Kelvin.
The surface was dark because it reflectslittle light (the reflection coefficient does not exceed 12 percent). The object is characterized by a uniform red color, while due to spectral studies, scientists have found the absorption lines of water and methanol.
It is noted that the study of Ultima Thuleis one of the most important for astronomy: this celestial Tilo never warmed up to high temperatures by the Sun, which means that many properties of the substances due to which the formation of the Solar System took place are preserved in it. The object is located in the Kuiper belt, at a distance of 30 to 55 astronomical units from the Sun, already beyond the orbit of Neptune.
Scientists continue to collect and processinformation about the new object and, quite possibly, will soon be able to get even closer to a clue to the origin of the solar system. It is noteworthy that the main purpose of New Horizons was Pluto, but the device flew past him 4 years ago. Ultima Thule became his next goal - rapprochement took place on January 1, 2019. But since the object is too far from Earth, data transfer will take about another year.
What do you think, what exactly gave the asteroid this form? Write your assumptions in the comments, and discuss Ultima Tula in more detail in our Telegram-chat.