NASA’s New Horizons probe will focus more on the most distant space object ever explored by the spacecraft,media New Atlas reported. The ancient Kuiper Belt object, known as Arrokoth, lies in the distance of Pluto and is surrounded by a circle of icy objects that form the Kuiper Belt. Now, scientists have mastered the latest observations from this distant world, greatly improving their understanding of how planetary bodies form.
Last January, New Horizons flew over Arrokoth, 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) above its surface, and collected detailed images and data about its composition. The painting depicts a smooth, flat world consisting of two connected leaf-shaped structures in their original state, which bodes well for studying how the structures of planets called “asteroids” were combined billions of years ago.
“Arrokoth is the most distant and primitive object ever explored by a spacecraft, so we know it will have a unique story,” said lead researcher Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. It teaches us how asteroids are formed, and we believe the results mark a significant advance in understanding the overall asteroid and planetary formation. “
Scientists have been using New Horizons fly-sweeping data to develop ideas about how Arrokoth formed, and in three newly published papers this week, they present what they believe to be relatively complete descriptions. The team believes that long ago, its two leaf-like structures were separate objects that began to slowly orbit each other and then gradually merged over a long period of time.
Scientists suspect it was driven by the collapse of solid particles in the original solar nebula, driven by gravity. This theory adds extra weight because arrokoth’s surface has a uniform color and flat composition, suggesting that it is slowly and slowly formed by “local” matter gathered in the solar nebula. This runs counter to the competitive theory of planetary formation, called the slow accumulation of interstellar dust, in which distant particles from different regions of the nebula are crushed together at high speed.
“Just as fossils tell us about the evolution of species on Earth, asteroids tell us how planets form in space,” said study co-author William McKinnon of Washington University in St. Louis. Arrokoth doesn’t look like that, not because it’s formed by violent collisions, but more because of a complex ‘dance’, in which its constituent objects slowly orbit before they gather at each other. “
Scientists say the latest paper on Arrokoth is based on 10 times as much data as last year’s paper, “but almost excludes” theories of how to form celestial bodies and other planetary bodies that extend therely. At the same time, New Horizons continued to pass through the Kuiper Belt at a speed of nearly 31,300 mph (50400 km/h). Over the next few months, the team will use telescopes on Earth to begin searching for other Kuiper Belt objects that New Horizons can conduct close-range passes with fuel permitting.