Clues to the Origin of Mysterious Kuiper Belt Object Arrokoth

A distant speck of light tucked away in the outer reaches of the Solar System, Arrokoth has been of particular interest to astronomers because of its distinct mystery and unusual appearance.

Oct 8, 2023 - 22:57
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Clues to the Origin of Mysterious Kuiper Belt Object Arrokoth

A distant speck of light tucked away in the outer reaches of the Solar System, Arrokoth has been of particular interest to astronomers because of its distinct mystery and unusual appearance.

This Kuiper Belt Object (KBO), which is located within the icy outer section of the Solar System, has two distinct lobes and a single neck connecting them, which gives the appearance of a snowman.

In a new study, a team of scientists from the US suggest this odd shape could be evidence of where Arrokoth originated from.

The study, published in The Planetary Science Journal, focuses on a series of mounds which cover the two lobes of the KBO. The research suggests these could be the remains of the material which formed it, or could prove a clue to Arrokoth‘s origin.

Using computer modelling to analyse the physical and chemical features of the mounds, the researchers suggest the structure could have been created after Arrokoth formed, rather than before.

The team believes the shape could have been caused by a dragging of material during the amalgamation of the two lobes from two distinct bodies. This could mean Arrokoth is a relic which formed from the joining of two separate objects.

The study‘s lead author, Will Grundy, from the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, said the mounds on Arrokoth could be seen as a "tattoo" of its origins.

"The mounds are the key to understanding what Arrokoth is made of and where it came from," he said.

This is part of a larger effort to unlock the secrets of Arrokoth. Further research is needed to understand where this mysterious KBO originated, and to discover more about the history.