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Astro Bob

Ultima Thule Looks Like A Frozen Peanut

1 Jan 2019, 17:33 UTC
Ultima Thule Looks Like A Frozen Peanut
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It’s still a pixelated blob in this photo, but it’s the best image we’ll see today. New Horizons snapped the photo from a half million miles away, close enough to show the object’s peanut or bowling pin shape. The asteroid measures 22 miles long by 9 miles wide (35 x 15 km)NASA / JHUAPL
During a press conference this morning, the New Horizons team unveiled a new photo of the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule (ull-tee-muh THOO-lee) that clearly shows the Kuiper Belt object’s shape, described as “bi-lobate” or having two lobes like a peanut in its shell. Given the low resolution of the photo there’s a small chance the asteroid may be two separate objects in close orbit around their center of gravity.
Ultima Thule — simplified at right — appears to be rotating with its pole facing in our direction, so it spins kind like a propeller seen face-on. That would explain why it doesn’t show any changes in brightness as it rotates — we only see one side. It takes either 15 or 30 hours to make one spin around its axis, shown by the red arrow. With more data from from the spacecraft, scientists will nail ...

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