Status: 02/14/2020 9:14 a.m..
Four and a half billion years old, misshapen, and the most distant object human has ever examined: the asteroid Arrokoth. Photos from the “New Horizons” probe provide new information about the formation of planets.
By Arthur Landwehr, ARD-Studio Washington, currently. Seattle.
The images were 6.5 billion kilometers on the way to Earth. And they give scientists a completely new picture of how the earth and all the other planets in our solar system came into being: They show the asteroid Arrokoth, which looks roughly like two spheres. It is around 30 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide.
The space probe “New Horizons” took the photos a year ago, in the so-called Kuiper Belt, far beyond the last planet. “This is the best preserved region in the solar system to understand how it was http://main-news.website/is-this-microphone-worth-the-price/ formed,” said NASA astronomer Allen Stern at a science congress in Seattle.
Now the images could be evaluated. Never before had an object been examined so far from Earth.
Hardly anything happens out there, says Stern. Hardly any collisions of rocks, no planets that attract objects with their gravity or catapult them back into space. Everything has been unchanged for billions of years. Stern is fascinated:
“It’s like an archaeological dig into the history of our solar system”
When our sun started to glow more than four billion years ago, there was nothing around it but a huge disk of hot dust and gas. How and when did this become the planets? This question should be answered by the data and pictures of the connected stone balls.
One theory so far has been that dust and gas clumped together and then absorbed more and more matter at breakneck speed. If that had been the case, NASA scientists are now saying, objects like Arrokoth could not exist.
The two rock balls must have circled slowly around each other until they merged into an asteroid. “They would then not hang together, but would have torn each other to pieces. They came together at perhaps 30 kilometers an hour,” says William McKinnon, one of the scientists involved. This was shown by computer models.
A look into the past of our solar system shows an almost peaceful picture: initially, elements were formed from billions of individual clouds, figuratively speaking, planetary building blocks. Objects like Arrokoth. Mini planets.
Only then were they merged into planets.
The New Horizons probe is currently flying on. It should still work for 20 to 25 years. NASA wants to use telescopes to find other asteroids that are roughly in the flight path.
Then, as with Arrokoth, the probe should be directed past it as close as possible in order to take more pictures.
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Space probe finds planetary building blocks – New theory on the formation of planets Arthur Landwehr, ARD Washington 02/14/2020 07:33.