NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Reveals Surprising Building Blocks for Planets

Scientists already know that planets form over millions of years due to gravity, which pulls matter together. It’s pretty much the same principle that led to the formation of not only planets, but also of stars and galaxies themselves.

But is this gathering and unifying of matter a chaotic process, or does it involve intelligence or what some people, mostly creationists, are calling “grand design”? NASA decided to seek answers, and so it sent its New Horizons spacecraft beyond the edges of the solar system.

1 billion miles beyond Pluto

At such distance, the New Horizons spacecraft found Arrokoth and started to assess it. This is what is known as a “planetesimal” – something like a planet in its very early stages. It’s not spherical enough to be considered a planet, but it’s big enough (about the size of a city) to be considered something more than a regular space rock.

New Horizons brought back to Earth images of Arrokoth, appearing like an alien snowman:

After analysis, scientists concluded that the weird-shaped object offers compelling evidence for how planets in our solar system formed billions of years ago from a primordial cloud of dust. The reports also suggest that the formation of planets is not as chaotic and violent as scientists initially thought.

Kelsi Singer, deputy project scientist for the mission. declared:

We have a lot of thoughts about how the solar system formed, but we really need a lot more actual data and direct evidence in order to see which of those models are correct. We just could not have gotten this information any other way,

Alan Stern, the scientific leader of the New Horizons team, even believes that the exploration of Arrokoth is “the best archaeological dig we’ve ever found into the history of the solar system,”

The two “heads” formed individually

This is truly surprising since it shouldn’t happen if the formation was chaotic. Computer simulations made by the scientific team involved suggested that the collision of the two “giant balls” occurred at a fast pace. Surprisingly enough, there are no signs of compression fractures. This clearly suggests that the two lobes formed close to each other in individual clouds of dust and gas.

The study was revelead to the public via the journal Science.

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Cristian Antonescu

About the Author: Cristian Antonescu

With a strong passion for astronomy since he was little, Cristian writes mostly about this field on this website.

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