Ultima Thule Baffles Astronomers
The New Horizons spacecraft that flew by Ultima Thule last January 1 is slowly trickling data down to Earth, bringing clearer images each month. What the team is looking at now has them scratching their heads. Ultima Thule, a billion miles beyond Pluto, is out in the cold region of the solar system known as the Kuiper Belt.
At first, the object looked like a binary system. Then, it looked like a snowman. Now, it looks like a pancake stuck to a walnut. The science team refers to the larger object as Ultima and the smaller object as Thule. Only low-resolution images are available now, providing hints of the overall morphology.
If Pluto confused the team back in summer of 2017, Ultima Thule has brought them a new category of confusion. New Scientist calls it a “weirdly flat snowman that defies explanation.” The NASA press release expresses surprise:
“The new images are creating scientific puzzles about how such an object could even be formed,” mission scientist Alan Stern said in a statement. “We’ve never seen something like this orbiting the sun.”
Live Science says that the mission might be extended so that New Horizons could visit another object. For now, the mission scientists will have plenty of time to figure out such an object could even be formed.
The materialist moyboy consensus believes that objects accrete slowly over millions of years. Over and over, reality has taken a toll on theory. Could two different-shaped objects accrete to begin with? Then, how did they become stuck together? And could they remain stuck for billions of years? It will be interesting to see what story they come up with.