Saturday, March 12, 2022

we found lumpy space pancakes

Can't beat a headline like this:

The space ‘snowman' at the edge of our solar system is actually two lumpy pancakes

First spotted this article back in 10 October 2021. It's dated 18 March 2019. Finally got 'round to reading it...

The New Horizons mission scientists were surprised by data downloaded from the deep space probe. Everyone's first impression of the very distant object 2014 MU69 aka Ultima Thule was that two nice spherical balls of primordial planetesimal material glommed together at some point in the early formation of the solar system.

But different angles and deeper analysis revealed that the two elements were each rather flat. More like that perfect stone you seek at the waterfront to skip atop the lake's smooth surface. The article at Science said the two lobes were "like two lumpy pancakes smooshed together."

Team members believe pebbles initially aggregated by static electricity and later collapsed gravitationally to form separate larger bodies and then continued to cluster together and this particular pair began to orbit one another and finally merged.

updated shape model from MU 69

I pulled the image from the Planetary Society's web site, from the shape model page.

Gonna need more maple syrup...

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