This image was made by combining hundreds images taken between August and mid-December by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI). It has been colored using deep blue for the darkest regions and yellow for the brightest. Ultima Thule is the bright yellow spot in the middle. The two possible flyby distances for New Horizons are indicated by the two concentric circles. The mission has decided to fly along the closer path, toward the target point marked by an X. Individual images contain many background stars, but by combining images taken at different distances from Ultima Thule, most of the stars can be identified and removed. However, some of them leave behind traces, which can be seen as faint circles radiating away from the target point. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

An elongated comet or two space rocks close together should show repeated pulsations in brightness known as a light curve. Instead, New Horizons hasn’t been able to pick up any light curve at all.

“It’s really a puzzle,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, in a statement. “I call this Ultima’s first puzzle – why does it have such a tiny light curve that we can’t even detect it? I expect the detailed flyby images coming soon to give us many more mysteries, but I did not expect this, and so soon.”

Marc Buie, also of the Southwest Research Institute, suggests that the mystery could be due to Ultima’s rotation with respect to the spacecraft. In other words, New Horizons is at just the wrong angle to see the light. But there are other theories.

“Another explanation,” said the SETI Institute’s Mark Showalter, “is that Ultima may be surrounded by a cloud of dust that obscures its light curve, much the way a comet’s coma often overwhelms the light reflected by its central nucleus.”

It’s a good theory, but such a coma would require some sort of heat-source to generate and the Sun is much too far away to be doing the job.

“An even more bizarre scenario is one in which Ultima is surrounded by many tiny tumbling moons,” said University of Virginia’s Anne Verbiscer, a New Horizons assistant project scientist. “If each moon has its own light curve, then together they could create a jumbled superposition of light curves that make it look to New Horizons like Ultima has a small light curve.”

That explanation would be really interesting, because no bodies in our own solar system match that scenario. Only New Horizons can find out who’s right, or if something even more bizarre is going on.

” readability=”67.821366024518″>
< div _ ngcontent-c14 ="" innerhtml ="

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is preparing to strike its next target in the Kuiper Belt on New Year’s Day– the enigmatic Ultima Thule.

The probe is intending to swoop over the strangely-shaped things on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, sending out the very first high-res images back to Earth simply a day later on.

In preparation, New Horizons has actually invested the last 3 months taking numerous pictures of Ultima’s brightness, determining how it alters as the things turns, in the hopes of finding out its shape. Researchers had actually currently puzzled out that Ultima isn’t a sphere, it’s either a lengthened area rock or perhaps even 2 things lose together. However inexplicably, New Horizons’ observations up until now aren’t backing that up.

(******** )(********* )

This image was made by integrating hundreds images taken in between August and mid-December by New Horizons’ Long Variety Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI). It has actually been colored utilizing deep blue for the darkest areas and yellow for the brightest. Ultima Thule is the brilliant yellow area in the middle. The 2 possible flyby ranges for New Horizons are suggested by the 2 concentric circles. The objective has actually chosen to fly along the closer course, towards the target point marked by an X. Person images include lots of background stars, however by integrating images taken at various ranges from Ultima Thule, the majority of the stars can be determined and gotten rid of. Nevertheless, a few of them leave traces, which can be viewed as faint circles radiating far from the target point. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Study Institute) NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Study Institute

A lengthened comet or more area rocks close together must reveal repetitive pulsations in brightness called a light curve. Rather, New Horizons hasn’t had the ability to get any light curve at all.

” It’s actually a puzzle,” stated New Horizons Principal Detective Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Study Institute, in a declaration “I call this Ultima’s very first puzzle– why does it have such a small light curve that we can’t even discover it? I anticipate the comprehensive flyby images coming quickly to provide us much more secrets, however I did not anticipate this, therefore quickly.”

Marc Buie, likewise of the Southwest Research study Institute, recommends that the secret might be due to Ultima’s rotation with regard to the spacecraft. Simply put, New Horizons is at simply the incorrect angle to see the light. However there are other theories.

(******* )

” Another description,” stated the SETI Institute’s Mark Showalter, “is that Ultima might be surrounded by a cloud of dust that obscures its light curve, much the method a comet’s coma frequently overwhelms the light shown by its main nucleus.”

It’s an excellent theory, however such a coma would need some sort of heat-source to create and the Sun is much too far to be getting the job done.

” A much more unusual circumstance is one in which Ultima is surrounded by lots of small toppling moons,” stated University of Virginia’s Anne Verbiscer, a New Horizons assistant task researcher. “If each moon has its own light curve, then together they might produce a jumbled superposition of light curves that make it aim to New Horizons like Ultima has a little light curve.”

That description would be actually fascinating, due to the fact that no bodies in our own planetary system match that circumstance. Just New Horizons can learn who’s right, or if something a lot more unusual is going on.

” readability =”67
821366024518″ >

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is preparing to strike its next target in the Kuiper Belt on New Year’s Day– the enigmatic Ultima Thule.

The probe is intending to swoop over the strangely-shaped things on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, sending out the very first high-res images back to Earth simply a day later on.

In preparation, New Horizons has actually invested the last 3 months taking numerous pictures of Ultima’s brightness, determining how it alters as the things turns, in the hopes of finding out its shape. Researchers had actually currently puzzled out that Ultima isn’t a sphere, it’s either a lengthened area rock or perhaps even 2 things lose together. However inexplicably, New Horizons’ observations up until now aren’t backing that up.

.

.

This image was made by integrating hundreds images taken in between August and mid-December by New Horizons’ Long Variety Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI). It has actually been colored utilizing deep blue for the darkest areas and yellow for the brightest. Ultima Thule is the brilliant yellow area in the middle. The 2 possible flyby ranges for New Horizons are suggested by the 2 concentric circles. The objective has actually chosen to fly along the closer course, towards the target point marked by an X. Person images include lots of background stars, however by integrating images taken at various ranges from Ultima Thule, the majority of the stars can be determined and gotten rid of. Nevertheless, a few of them leave traces, which can be viewed as faint circles radiating far from the target point. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Study Institute) NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Study Institute

.

.

A lengthened comet or more area rocks close together must reveal repetitive pulsations in brightness called a light curve. Rather, New Horizons hasn’t had the ability to get any light curve at all.

“It’s actually a puzzle,” stated New Horizons Principal Detective Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Study Institute, in a declaration “I call this Ultima’s very first puzzle– why does it have such a small light curve that we can’t even discover it? I anticipate the comprehensive flyby images coming quickly to provide us much more secrets, however I did not anticipate this, therefore quickly.”

Marc Buie, likewise of the Southwest Research study Institute, recommends that the secret might be due to Ultima’s rotation with regard to the spacecraft. Simply put, New Horizons is at simply the incorrect angle to see the light. However there are other theories.

“Another description,” stated the SETI Institute’s Mark Showalter, “is that Ultima might be surrounded by a cloud of dust that obscures its light curve, much the method a comet’s coma frequently overwhelms the light shown by its main nucleus.”

It’s an excellent theory, however such a coma would need some sort of heat-source to create and the Sun is much too far to be getting the job done.

“A much more unusual circumstance is one in which Ultima is surrounded by lots of small toppling moons,” stated University of Virginia’s Anne Verbiscer, a New Horizons assistant task researcher. “If each moon has its own light curve, then together they might produce a jumbled superposition of light curves that make it aim to New Horizons like Ultima has a little light curve.”

That description would be actually fascinating, due to the fact that no bodies in our own planetary system match that circumstance. Just New Horizons can learn who’s right, or if something a lot more unusual is going on.

.