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Old 01-02-2019, 02:40 PM
 
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The first "clear" image of the minor planet Ultima Thule, located in the Kuiper Belt, were released. It's the size of a city. It's not shaped like a bowling pin, but is more like a snowman. Apparently, it's composed of two large spheres that have fused together. More data is expected to be revealed tomorrow. The mission, albeit extremely brief, was an impressive success. The fly-by was on New Year's Day.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/techn...ape/ar-BBRJ8eJ



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN4n...t6asoA&index=3
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Old 01-02-2019, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Madison, Alabama
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Nice picture. All I'd seen before was the really fuzzy one released yesterday or the day before.

If Ultima Thule is a "minor planet", then Pluto needs to have its planetary status restored. They're not even close to being alike.
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Old 01-02-2019, 07:48 PM
 
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Thanks for posting this. These are great images.
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Old 01-02-2019, 10:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RocketDawg View Post
Nice picture. All I'd seen before was the really fuzzy one released yesterday or the day before.

If Ultima Thule is a "minor planet", then Pluto needs to have its planetary status restored. They're not even close to being alike.
The fuzzier image I think was taken around 1 million miles away from Ultima Thule. Apparently, the newest image was when New Horizons was within 2,200 miles from it. Surprisingly, they have a small number of craters. I would've thought they might be pockmarked all over. I guess they're sort of like conjoined twins.
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Old 01-02-2019, 11:02 PM
 
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Really cool to see these pictures. Especially considering this process is how planets form. I wonder if the fusing process speeds up with more material accruing due to increasing pressures and gravitational influence? Kind of like a runaway effect until the object is spherical and there's nothing left to gobble up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RocketDawg View Post
Nice picture. All I'd seen before was the really fuzzy one released yesterday or the day before.

If Ultima Thule is a "minor planet", then Pluto needs to have its planetary status restored. They're not even close to being alike.
It's not. I believe even dwarf planets must be spherical in shape to be categorized. This is just a Kuiper belt object.

Edit - just saw you said MINOR planet. I'm not sure now lol

Edit 2 - Just looked into it and it is classified as a classical Kuiper Belt object.

Last edited by Adric; 01-02-2019 at 11:11 PM..
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Old 01-03-2019, 12:05 AM
 
Location: Ohio
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Ultima Thule: Being an E.A.Poe reader, that was the name given to his most often pictured photo when he is referenced, taken in 1849.
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Old 01-03-2019, 09:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adric View Post
Really cool to see these pictures. Especially considering this process is how planets form. I wonder if the fusing process speeds up with more material accruing due to increasing pressures and gravitational influence? Kind of like a runaway effect until the object is spherical and there's nothing left to gobble up?
It's hard to be sure exactly how Ultima Thule is formed by two objects that are each roughly spherical in shape. It's likely they lightly collided during the early stages of the formation of the solar system. Ultima Thule could be anywhere from 1 to 4 billion years old when rocky bodies were beginning to form. Ultima and Thule would not yet have been compacted enough to be more "solid" but firm enough to start taking shape. By a soft collision, they could have merged (or blended) together and gradually compacted into the shape we now see. Exactly how firm they are is hard to guess. They could still be mostly soft rubble from the early solar system. I would guess there might be a certain amount of compaction to make them at least somewhat "solid". There's probably a lot of ice included to add to the firmness. I think we'll have a better idea as more data is examined.

It'd be great to do a more in-depth examination of it with a lander, but I doubt we'll be going there again anytime soon in the near future, if ever. That said, I think New Horizons could be aimed at another nearby object in the Kuiper Belt once it can be decided where to send it and can justify a second mission in the Belt. New Horizons's onboard fuel should last well into the 2030s. The Ultima Thule mission required very little fuel to maneuver into position for the fly-by.

Ultima Thule probably collects or attracts occasional small objects now and then. However, it apparently has very few craters. That surprised me. I thought it would be pockmarked with craters. It also looks like that there's a lot more space than thought between objects in the Kuiper Belt, so there might not be much for bodies like Ultima Thule to sweep or gobble up. That's not to say there are no hazards in the Belt though. The Belt is an incredibly large and vast region, much larger and more populated than the Asteroid Belt.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Adric View Post
It's not. I believe even dwarf planets must be spherical in shape to be categorized. This is just a Kuiper belt object.

Edit - just saw you said MINOR planet. I'm not sure now lol

Edit 2 - Just looked into it and it is classified as a classical Kuiper Belt object.
For the sake of clarification, a Minor Planet or Dwarf Planet (they're both the same) is not a Planet, but it's not an asteroid either. It's sort of in-between. As such, Ultima Thule is classified as a Minor (or Dwarf) Planet.

Yes, it's an object in the Kuiper Belt, but so is everything else in the Belt.

https://www.universetoday.com/34727/minor-planets/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_planet
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IAU_definition_of_planet
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Old 01-06-2019, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Here
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RocketDawg View Post
If Ultima Thule is a "minor planet", then Pluto needs to have its planetary status restored. They're not even close to being alike.
They're more alike than Pluto (or Earth, for that matter) and Jupiter. They're more alike that humans and sea sponges (which are both animals). The term planet is precisely defined, and neither Ultima Thule nor Pluto meet the definition. The term dwarf planet is also precisely defined, and Pluto meets that definition but not Ultima Thule. The term minor planet is again precisely defined. However, precision is not the same as broadness, and in that case this broad category includes both Pluto and Ultima Thule.

In any case, your arbitrary subjective notion of 'not even close to being alike' has no scientific basis and so is irrelevant to scientific classification.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
For the sake of clarification, a Minor Planet or Dwarf Planet (they're both the same) is not a Planet, but it's not an asteroid either. It's sort of in-between. As such, Ultima Thule is classified as a Minor (or Dwarf) Planet.

Yes, it's an object in the Kuiper Belt, but so is everything else in the Belt.

https://www.universetoday.com/34727/minor-planets/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_planet
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IAU_definition_of_planet
Dwarf planets and minor planets are not the same - the former is a subset of the latter, as your minor planet link indicates. There are a handful of dwarf planets as recognized by the IAU, whereas there are several hundred thousand minor planets. Ultima Thule is a minor planet but not a dwarf planet.
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Old 01-08-2019, 01:38 PM
 
Location: Seattle
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Apparently the spacecraft is too close to the Sun right now for data download. They'll start getting more data on Jan. 10.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post

For the sake of clarification, a Minor Planet or Dwarf Planet (they're both the same) is not a Planet, but it's not an asteroid either. It's sort of in-between. As such, Ultima Thule is classified as a Minor (or Dwarf) Planet.

Yes, it's an object in the Kuiper Belt, but so is everything else in the Belt.

https://www.universetoday.com/34727/minor-planets/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_planet
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IAU_definition_of_planet
I was under the impression that dwarf planets still needed to be large enough for gravity to have rounded them.

The term dwarf planet was only created in 2006 by the IAU to redefine objects like Pluto because the alternative would have increased the total number of planets in the Solar System by a considerable margin. That’s one of the reasons not everyone is on board with the new classifications as they operate under an exclusive principle.

The new distinction is as follows.

A planet meets the following requirements:

1. Orbits a star
2. Is large enough to be spherical in shape
3. Has cleared its orbit

Pluto, Eris satisfy the first two conditions whereas Ultima Thule only meets the first. I guess you could say that there is some overlap with Ceres which is both the largest asteroid and the smallest dwarf planet.
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