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How to build a Kuiper Belt Object: Arrokoth's two halves formed separately and slowly came together

18 Feb 2020, 14:00 UTC
How to build a Kuiper Belt Object: Arrokoth's two halves formed separately and slowly came together NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko

On January 1, 2019 — just three and half years after it passed Pluto — the new Horizons spacecraft zipped past the Kuiper Belt Object called (at that time) 2014 MU69. We knew a little about it before the encounter, like that it traveled around the Sun in a fairly circular path 6.6 billion kilometers away, and that it was either a binary object or bilobed; two objects connected together like the comet 67P.

But then New Horizons sailed past it at a distance of only 3,500 kilometers — after traveling more than 6 billion — and we learned a lot more.

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