02/14/2020

A Backstory For Kuiper Belt Object ‘Arrokoth’

8:05 minutes

a red asteroid that looks like a snowman made out of two balls
New research of Arrokoth shows that it formed from a cloud in a solar nebula. Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko

This week, researchers published three reports in the journal Science giving some expanded results from the New Horizons spacecraft’s flyby of Arrokoth (formerly known as MU69).  The snowman-shaped Kuiper Belt object, they say, appears to have formed around 4.5 billion years ago in a localized collapsing cloud of dust, rather than via the repeated collisions of larger objects. The surface, the researchers say, is uniformly red, cold, and covered with methanol ice and other unidentified complex organic molecules. 

Purbita Saha, senior editor at Popular Science, joins Ira to talk about the findings and other stories from the week in science, including the latest on the coronavirus outbreak, a new analysis of food waste, and the murders of Homero Gonzalez and Raul Romero, two butterfly conservationists in central Mexico.

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Purbita Saha

Purbita Saha is a Senior Editor at Popular Science in New York, New York.

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