The universe is a pretty big place, but thanks to technology scientists are making it seem smaller and smaller. A pretty powerful telescope has found something very familiar looking floating around millions of miles away. To the untrained eye, you could even say they look like pancakes.
Four Billion Miles Away
For 13 years scientists have been calling a bizarre formation of shape an unknown puzzle. They called it MU69, and it is the farthest away object a human spacecraft has ever visited. As the spacecraft approached, it became clear the shapes had moved from their original position and looked a lot like a snowman.
Shaped Like Food
The shapes have also been nicknamed Ultima Thule and are believed to be flat and disk-shaped. ‘Thule’ is the smaller shape and is shaped like a walnut, while ‘Ultima’ is in the shape of a pancake. There is still so much to understand about this particular set of shapes however, but so far no one has managed to crack the code. Similarly shaped objects in the solar system are usually considered to be comets, but experts don’t believe this is necessarily the case with Ultima Thule.
How Was It Even Formed?
The confusing thing for scientists is in trying to figure out just how the shapes took form in the first place. The images of Ultima Thule were taken from the spacecraft New Horizons and the experts analyzing its data believe we have never seen an object like it orbiting our sun. This isn’t the first image of Ultima Thule we have ever seen, nor will it be the last, but scientists are still trying to unravel its mystery. For now, we have bid goodbye to this strange formation, but experts believe it will come back again.
One strange thing about MU69 is that it is encased in a frozen belt known as the Kuiper Belt. The temperatures reach the ultimate low of negative 460 Fahrenheit which has perfectly preserved the contents of Ultima Thule in time. Experts believe the Ultima Thule was preserved like this at the beginning of our solar system, four billion years ago.
This is just one of the discoveries the space probe New Horizons has found. The longer it’s roaming space, the more we’re going to understand about our solar system.