Distant space rock Ultima Thule formed in a slow and gentle collision

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    Distant space rock Ultima Thule formed in a slow and gentle collision
    Ultima Thule, a distant space rock with two lobes like a bowling pin

    The two lobes of Ultima Thule came together in a slow collision

    NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute, National Optical Astronomy Observatory

    By Leah Crane

    The most-distant object we have ever visited with a spacecraft is finally coming into focus. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by the distant rock called 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule, on New Year’s Day this year, and the data from that speedy fly-by shows that it must have formed in a slow-motion collision.

    The first results that arrived from the spacecraft showed Ultima Thule to be shaped a bit like a …

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