APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

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APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by APOD Robot » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:06 am

Image Ultima Thule from New Horizons

Explanation: How do distant asteroids differ from those near the Sun? To help find out, NASA sent the robotic New Horizons spacecraft past the classical Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule, the farthest asteroid yet visited by a human spacecraft. Zooming past the 30-km long space rock on January 1, the featured image is the highest resolution picture of Ultima Thule's surface beamed back so far. Utima Thuli does look different than imaged asteroids of the inner Solar System, as it shows unusual surface texture, relatively few obvious craters, and nearly spherical lobes. Its shape is hypothesized to have formed from the coalescence of early Solar System rubble in into two objects -- Ultima and Thule -- which then spiraled together and stuck. Research will continue into understanding the origin of different surface regions on Ultima Thule, whether it has a thin atmosphere, how it obtained its red color, and what this new knowledge of the ancient Solar System tells us about the formation of our Earth.

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by FLPhotoCatcher » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:56 am

Amazing images!

How much higher resolution will we see?
And I thought they knew where and how the red color forms..?

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Ann » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:48 am

FLPhotoCatcher wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:56 am
Amazing images!

How much higher resolution will we see?
And I thought they knew where and how the red color forms..?

As for the red color, Ultima Thule is not the only Kuiper Belt object that is reddish. Pluto, for example, is too. But how can it be that Pluto is reddish while Charon, moon of Pluto, is mostly grey? I'd like to have that explained to me.

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by orin stepanek » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:58 pm

Wonderful picture! 8-) Almost looks as though it was sculptured! :D What kind of material is it composed of?
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‘star-tar’ fluid?

Post by neufer » Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:08 pm

FLPhotoCatcher wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:56 am

And I thought they knew where and how the red color forms..?
  • We think we sorta know...maybe:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tholin wrote:
<<Tholins (after the Greek θολός (tholós) "hazy" or "muddy"; from the ancient Greek word meaning "sepia ink") is an informal name given to a wide variety of organic compounds formed by solar ultraviolet irradiation or cosmic rays from simple carbon-containing compounds such as carbon dioxide, methane or ethane, often in combination with nitrogen. Tholins do not form naturally on modern-day Earth, but they are found in great abundance on the surface of icy bodies in the outer Solar System, and as reddish aerosols in the atmosphere of outer Solar System planets and moons.

The term "tholin" was coined by astronomer Carl Sagan and his colleague Bishun Khare to describe the difficult-to-characterize substances they obtained in his Miller-Urey-type experiments on the methane-containing gas mixtures such as those found in Titan's atmosphere. Their paper proposing the name "tholin" said:
  • For the past decade we have been producing in our laboratory a variety of complex organic solids from mixtures of the cosmically abundant gases CH4, C2H6, NH3, H2O, CHO, and H2S. The product, synthesized by ultraviolet (UV) light or spark discharge, is a brown, sometimes sticky, residue, which has been called, because of its resistance to conventional analytical chemistry, "intractable polymer". [...] We propose, as a model-free descriptive term, ‘tholins’ (Gk ϴὸλος, muddy; but also ϴoλòς, vault or dome), although we were tempted by the phrase ‘star-tar’.
Tholins are not one specific compound but rather are descriptive of a spectrum of molecules, including heteropolymers, that give a reddish, organic surface covering on certain planetary surfaces. Sagan and Khare note "The properties of tholins will depend on the energy source used and the initial abundances of precursors, but a general physical and chemical similarity among the various tholins is evident."

Some researchers in the field prefer a narrowed definition of tholins, for example S. Hörst wrote: "Personally, I try to use the word 'tholins' only when describing the laboratory-produced samples, in part because we do not really know yet how similar the material we produce in the lab is to the material found on places like Titan or Triton (or Pluto!)." French researchers also use the term tholins only when describing the laboratory-produced samples as analogues.

The reddish color typical of tholins is characteristic of many Trans-Neptunian Objects, including plutinos in the outer Solar System such as 28978 Ixion. Spectral reflectances of Centaurs also suggest the presence of tholins on their surfaces. New Horizons flyby of (486958) 2014 MU69 (Ultima Thule) revealed red color at the surface, suggestive of hydrocarbons and other organic compounds.

Sagan and Khare note the presence of tholins through multiple locations: "as a constituent of the Earth's primitive oceans and therefore relevant to the origin of life; as a component of red aerosols in the atmospheres of the outer planets and Titan; present in comets, carbonaceous chondrites asteroids, and pre-planetary solar nebulae; and as a major constituent of the interstellar medium." The surfaces of comets, centaurs, and many icy moons and Kuiper-belt objects in the outer Solar System are rich in deposits of tholins.

Neptune's moon Triton is observed to have the reddish color characteristic of tholins. Triton's atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, with trace amounts of methane and carbon monoxide.

Tholins occur on the dwarf planet Pluto and are responsible for red colors as well as the blue tint of the atmosphere of Pluto. The reddish-brown cap of the north pole of Charon, the largest of five moons of Pluto, is thought to be composed of tholins, produced from methane, nitrogen and related gases released from the atmosphere of Pluto and transferred over about 19,000 km distance to the orbiting moon.

In February 2017, organic compounds were detected on the dwarf planet Ceres, later identified as tholins.

Makemake exhibits methane, large amounts of ethane and tholins, as well as smaller amounts of ethylene, acetylene and high-mass alkanes may be present, most likely created by photolysis of methane by solar radiation.

Tholins were also detected in situ by the Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Tholins are not typically characteristic of main-belt asteroids, but have been detected on the asteroid 24 Themis.

Tholins might have also been detected in the stellar system of the young star HR 4796A using the Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The HR 4796 system is approximately 220 light years from Earth.

Models show that even when far from UV radiation of a star, cosmic ray doses may be fully sufficient to convert carbon-containing ice grains entirely to complex organics in less than the lifetime of the typical interstellar cloud.>>
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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Tszabeau » Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:26 pm

Might some of the features like, the circular patches or lobes have been formed by the two bodies bumping into, rolling around each other, glomming together and then re-arranging themselves as they finally came to rest in this current state?

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Fred the Cat » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:24 pm

Those two lobes sounds like they had some chemistry between them. :thumb_up:

Of course it could have been mutual attraction, friction and star-tar too. :wink:
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Re: APOD: "Utima Thuli"?

Post by NateWhilk » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:40 pm

The 4th sentence begins with those exact words, and they link to a 30-second YouTube video for a company that installs windows.

Does my PC have some rogue adware that added this, or does everybody see it?

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Re: APOD: "Utima Thuli"?

Post by neufer » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:56 pm

NateWhilk wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:40 pm

The 4th sentence begins with those exact words, and they link to a 30-second YouTube video for a company that installs windows.

Does my PC have some rogue adware that added this, or does everybody see it?
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Re: APOD: "Utima Thuli"?

Post by geckzilla » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:15 pm

NateWhilk wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:40 pm
The 4th sentence begins with those exact words, and they link to a 30-second YouTube video for a company that installs windows.

Does my PC have some rogue adware that added this, or does everybody see it?
Uh, that's really weird. I'll email the editors
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Re: APOD: "Utima Thuli"?

Post by De58te » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:58 pm

NateWhilk wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:40 pm
The 4th sentence begins with those exact words, and they link to a 30-second YouTube video for a company that installs windows.

Does my PC have some rogue adware that added this, or does everybody see it?
Yup, you're right. It is a youtube commercial for a window installer. Some free advertisements? But technically they are clever. It isn't a link to Ultima Thule. They spelt it Utima Thuli, which is probably gibberish so no copyright broken.

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Re: APOD: "Utima Thuli"?

Post by RJN » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:05 pm

NateWhilk wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:40 pm
The 4th sentence begins with those exact words, and they link to a 30-second YouTube video for a company that installs windows.

Does my PC have some rogue adware that added this, or does everybody see it?
Thanks! That was supposed to be a link to Brian May / Queen's new song / YouTube video on Ultima Thule. For some reason, I must not have set the link correctly. I have now fixed it, and apologize for the inconvenience.

- RJN

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Astro Joe » Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:38 am

Is it a coincidence that Ultima Thule has two lobes very similar to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on which the U.S. landed a probe?

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by neufer » Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:11 am

Astro Joe wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:38 am

Is it a coincidence that Ultima Thule has two lobes very similar to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on which the U.S. landed a probe?
Probably not.
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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Nitpicker » Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:33 am

Astro Joe wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:38 am
Is it a coincidence that Ultima Thule has two lobes very similar to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on which the U.S. landed a probe?
EU/ESA rather than US/NASA:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_(spacecraft)

(And I think the four lobes all look quite different. Not to mention that the whole nucleus of 67P would fit comfortably within the volume of the Thule lobe.)

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Astro Joe » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:22 am

Please pardon my ignorance. EU/ESA rather than US/NASA. Yes, the four lobes look quite different, after all one is a comet, the other an asteroid. That doesn't change the fact that both objects are peculiarly divided into two lobes.

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Nitpicker » Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:18 am

I don't know what proportion of comets or asteroids are estimated to be contact binaries. But I suspect they aren't that uncommon.

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Devil Particle » Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:13 pm

Artistic Rendering, "The Snowman".
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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by sillyworm 2 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:57 pm

Welcome back Nasa!!!!! That was a long wait,esp with such an interesting new find to ponder.

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by MarkBour » Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:30 pm

Devil Particle wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:13 pm
Artistic Rendering, "The Snowman".
[Like!]
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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by neufer » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:16 pm

Art Neuendorffer

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Ann » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:30 pm

MarkBour wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:30 pm
Devil Particle wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:13 pm
Artistic Rendering, "The Snowman".
[Like!]
+1

Oh, and Art: I like your Charon - Ultima Thule comparison. Puts things into perspective!

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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Astronymus » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:02 pm

Ann wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:48 am
As for the red color, Ultima Thule is not the only Kuiper Belt object that is reddish. Pluto, for example, is too. But how can it be that Pluto is reddish while Charon, moon of Pluto, is mostly grey? I'd like to have that explained to me.

Ann
Not an explanation more a guess. My guess would be Charon and Pluto didn't originate in the same place in the protoplanetry disc and found each other later.
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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by neufer » Sat Feb 02, 2019 5:58 pm

Astronymus wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:02 pm
Ann wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:48 am

As for the red color, Ultima Thule is not the only Kuiper Belt object that is reddish. Pluto, for example, is too. But how can it be that Pluto is reddish while Charon, moon of Pluto, is mostly grey? I'd like to have that explained to me.
Not an explanation more a guess. My guess would be Charon and Pluto didn't originate in the same place in the protoplanetry disc and found each other later.
I find it very difficult to believe that Charon and Pluto didn't originate in the same place (in more or less the proposed manner).
  • Pluto's average orbital speed around the Sun of 4.67 km/s greatly
    exceeds both: Pluto's surface escape velocity of 1.212 km/s as
    well as Charon average orbital speed around Pluto of 0.21 km/s.

    Whereas, Neptune average orbital speed around the Sun is 5.43 km/s
    is comparable to Neptune's surface escape velocity of 11.15 km/s
    as well as Triton's average orbital speed 4.39 km/s.
It would be difficult (though not impossible) for tiny Pluto to dynamically capture Charon (as Neptune did Triton) unless it resembled the ancient destructive collision that formed the Earth's Moon. And such an ancient collision should have left them with similar orange tholin colors by now.

I suspect that Sputnik Planitia, the western lobe of Pluto's "Heart" (a 1,000 km-wide basin of frozen nitrogen and carbon monoxide ices with no craters) was caused be a recent collision with another much smaller Plutino and that a cloud of frozen water, nitrogen & carbon monoxide ices was thrown up at that time that coated most of Charon. Go scratch Charon and you'll find the true orange tholin surface, IMO.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto wrote: The plains on Pluto's surface are composed of more than 98 percent nitrogen ice, with traces of methane and carbon monoxide. Nitrogen and carbon monoxide are most abundant on the anti-Charon face of Pluto (around 180° longitude, where Tombaugh Regio's western lobe, Sputnik Planitia, is located), whereas methane is most abundant near 300° east. The mountains are made of water ice. Pluto is one of the most contrastive bodies in the Solar System, with as much contrast as Saturn's moon Iapetus. The color varies from charcoal black, to dark orange and white. Pluto's color is more similar to that of Io with slightly more orange and significantly less red than Mars. Notable geographical features include Tombaugh Regio, or the "Heart" (a large bright area on the side opposite Charon).

Sputnik Planitia, the western lobe of the "Heart", is a 1,000 km-wide basin of frozen nitrogen and carbon monoxide ices, divided into polygonal cells, which are interpreted as convection cells that carry floating blocks of water ice crust and sublimation pits towards their margins; there are obvious signs of glacial flows both into and out of the basin. It has no craters that were visible to New Horizons, indicating that its surface is less than 10 million years old. The New Horizons science team summarized initial findings as "Pluto displays a surprisingly wide variety of geological landforms, including those resulting from glaciological and surface–atmosphere interactions as well as impact, tectonic, possible cryovolcanic, and mass-wasting processes."

A large number of Kuiper belt objects, like Pluto, are in a 2:3 orbital resonance with Neptune. KBOs with this orbital resonance are called "plutinos", after Pluto.>>
Plutinos (like Pluto itself) are in a 2:3 orbital resonance with Neptune alternately passing through Neptune's L4, L3 and L5 Lagrangian points in that order. My proposed recent Pluto collision might have occurred with stable material in Neptune's L4 or L5 Lagrangian points rather than another plutino.
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Re: APOD: Ultima Thule from New Horizons (2019 Jan 29)

Post by Ann » Sat Feb 02, 2019 7:02 pm

neufer wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 5:58 pm

I find it very difficult to believe that Charon and Pluto didn't originate in the same place (in more or less the proposed manner).
  • Pluto's average orbital speed around the Sun of 4.67 km/s greatly
    exceeds both: Pluto's surface escape velocity of 1.212 km/s as
    well as Charon average orbital speed around Pluto of 0.21 km/s.

    Whereas, Neptune average orbital speed around the Sun is 5.43 km/s
    is comparable to Neptune's surface escape velocity of 11.15 km/s
    as well as Triton's average orbital speed 4.39 km/s.
It would be difficult (though not impossible) for tiny Pluto to dynamically capture Charon (as Neptune did Triton) unless it resembled the ancient destructive collision that formed the Earth's Moon. And such an ancient collision should have left them with similar orange tholin colors by now.

I suspect that Sputnik Planitia, the western lobe of Pluto's "Heart" (a 1,000 km-wide basin of frozen nitrogen and carbon monoxide ices with no craters) was caused be a recent collision with another much smaller Plutino and that a cloud of frozen water, nitrogen & carbon monoxide ices was thrown up at that time that coated most of Charon. Go scratch Charon and you'll find the true orange tholin surface, IMO.
What, Art? You mean a meteor impact on Pluto threw up a cloud of frozen water, nitrogen and carbon monoxide that painted most of previously orange Charon grey, but left most of Pluto still orange?

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