This New Year’s Day the New Horizons spacecraft sent back a very exciting and holiday appropriate image – what looked like a giant snowman made of rock and debris floating in space. This “snowman” (or snowwoman!), nicknamed Ultima Thule, was found in the Kuiper Belt, a zone of objects orbiting the sun on the very edge of our solar system. Ultima Thule is what’s called a contact binary, or a shape that forms when two separate objects become joined. Besides its unusual shape, scientists are also excited about what Ultima Thule might tell us about the formation of planets. They believe it is one of the oldest objects in the solar system, and supports the theory that planets can form from rocks slowly clumping together. So it looks like you’re not the only one that likes building snowmen on a cold winter day, the universe likes to do it too!
Want to learn more? Visit https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/theres-snowman-space
Feb. 8, 2019