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2014 MU69 (Ultima Thule) as binary object, illustration

2014 MU69 (Ultima Thule) as binary object, illustration

C042/6431

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Credit

NASA / JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY / SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE / ALEX PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY / SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE / ALEX PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

MU69 (Ultima Thule) as binary object, illustration. This astronomical body is the most distant object visited by human spacecraft, with the flyby of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft taking place on 1 January 2019. It is a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) and was found to be a contact binary with the two joined bodies 19 and 14 kilometres across respectively. This binary concept was first inferred based on telescope observations made at Patagonia, Argentina, on 17 July 2017, when MU69 passed in front of a star. For the alternative (incorrect) theory that it was a single object, see image C042/6435. For the first images of MU69, see C042/6428.

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