A new study revealed that the formation of heavenly body Ultima Thule was possible due to merger between primordial bodies several years ago. According to lead author Alan Stern from Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, the two progenitors were probably created from a cloud of icy material that existed long before the solar system was created and existed several billion miles away from the sun. Though these two pieces were initially circling a common piece of mass they slowly spiraled closed to each other and eventually decided to merge together in a leisurely manner. Their merger makes it look as if they merged at the speed at which spacecraft dock to space stations.
This incident throws light on the origin of planets and celestial bodies in space. Mr Stern is the principal investigator NASA’s spacecraft New Horizons that flew past Ultima Thule during early part of this year and sent several detailed pictures of the region. A new study which was published on 16th May in scientific journal Science, describes the details of New Horizons’ encounter with Ultima Thule as the most far distant planetary encounter in spaceflight history. The New Horizons spacecraft had been launched in 2006 to take close look at Pluto which is the farthest planet from earth.
Since it was discovered in 1930, little information exists of this mysterious planet and New Horizons completed this mission by 2015 by moving within 12500 kms of the planet and capturing several stunning pictures of its diverse and complex surface. After this the team monitoring the spacecraft turned its focus on Ultima Thule and lies around 4 billion miles from earth. During its 1st Jan flyby past the Ultima Thule New Horizons carried out its most challenging task after the Pluto mission. It cruised just 2200 miles above the frigid surface of this dwarf planet at speeds of 32280 miles per hour and sent intriguing details which scientists are still trying to decipher.