New Horizons probe of Arrokoth reveals how planets are formed

The New Horizons flyby of Arrokoth has unveiled important details on how planets are formed.

    2020/02/17

NSFW    SPACE — New Horizons' flyby of the most distant object ever visited has revealed the secrets to how planets are formed.

MIT Technology Review reports that there have been two theories for planet formation. The first more prominent theory, hierarchical accretion, is when smaller objects collide at high speeds until they form a larger structure.

The second theory, called cloud collapse, is when concentrations of matter collapse or gently clump together at low speeds.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft ventured to Kuiper Belt in the outer reaches of our solar system, it conducted a flyby of an ancient planetesimal named Arrokoth.

Three studies published in the journal Science analyzed the high-resolution photos of Arrokoth taken by New Horizons and found no evidence of violent impact, indicating that there was instead a gentle accumulation of matter.

Simulations based on the new data suggest that Arrokoth's two parts formed independently from the collapse of the same cloud, and eventually gently merged together.

More data collected during the Arrokoth flyby has yet to be downloaded and analyzed – a task which scientists say may take another year.
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