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Arrokoth, the farthest trans-Neptunian object ever visited by a probe

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New hypotheses about the origin of the binary asteroid connected to Arrokoth could help us understand how our solar system was born.
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Arrokothaka Ultima Thulethat it The binary asteroid is in contact It is located in Kuiper beltOr that region of the solar system through which it extends About 20 AU From the orbit of Neptune in one The band is populated by smaller objects Outside of those major planets.

This was an asteroid Recently discoveredexactly June 26, 2014 from Hubble Space Telescope He was later chosen as a target for a Close flight By investigation NASA new Horizons Once its main goal, namelyExploring Pluto.

Thus, the probe has completed its main mission It was implemented successfully The maneuver that led her to perform Flying over Arrokoth the January 1, 2019.

But why did we choose to visit this asteroid?

Arrokoth A An essential piece In understanding Early stages of training Subordinate Our planet Born in Solar System Generally. Actually this Trans-Neptunian objects They are part of Primitive bodies For our planetary system and by understanding how these small bodies form we can Hope you understand How did major planets, such as our Earth, form?

Asteroid is 36 km long It consists of Two planetesimals In diameter 21 km And 15 kmjoined along its main axes with Neck-like narrowing.

For completeness, let us define what is meant by a minor planet: it is A Primitive rock organism In base Formation of planets and asteroids. It is assumed that these are formed thanks to Collision of dust grains They aggregate to form progressively larger objects. When these planetesimals reach sufficient size they begin to do so Attract each other during Gravity attractionAnd thus its size increases Until they become protoplanets and then planetsUnless you end up getting destroyed Many violent collisions That can occur with neighboring bodies.

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It is clear that in the case of Arrokoth, the two planets that make up it were one planet The region of the solar nebula subject to gravitational collapseOver time, they gradually became closer to each other The collision speed is a few kilometers per hourThat’s how they are They are united precisely by merging Without breaking and destroying each other.

Analysis of New Horizons data opens new doors

Now analyze the data obtained from the flyover new Horizons Research group from Southwest Research Institute Assume aCommon origin of asteroid lobesThis is because they are almost the same Shape, size, color and reflection.

The first author of this study, Alan SternHe announced:

The similarities, including size and other characteristics, in the Arrokoth mound structures suggest new ideas about their formation. If the ridges in fact represent the building blocks of ancient planetesimals like Arrokoth, then models of planetesimal formation will need to take into account the preferred size of these building blocks

So let’s wait Other investigations On this type of primitive being, it might be one of the targets Lucy’s mission from NASAHopefully I can understand something more about it Our origins.

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