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posted by mrpg on Thursday December 14 2017, @05:23AM   Printer-friendly
from the inhabitants-have-no-livers dept.

2014 MU69, which is still thought to be a contact binary or binary object, may also have a tiny moon (although additional observations are needed):

The object, known as 2014 MU69, is small, no more than 20 miles wide [30-40 km], but planetary scientists hope that it will turn out to be an ancient and pristine fragment from the earliest days of the solar system.

The moon, if it exists, might be about three miles [~5 km] wide, circling at a distance of about 120 miles [~190 km] from MU69, completing an orbit every two to four weeks, estimated Marc W. Buie, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.

He cautioned that the findings were tentative. "The story could change next week," he said.

Dr. Buie and others working on NASA's New Horizons mission provided an update on Tuesday at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union meeting here.

New Horizons is set to fly closer to 2014 MU69 than it did to Pluto (~3,500 km vs. 12,472 km). Flyby or collision course?

Voting for a possible new name for the object has been closed. Mjölnir (Thor's hammer) got the most votes. That name could fit the shape of 2014 MU69 somewhat.

Also at Sky & Telescope, Science News, and BBC.

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  • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Thursday December 14 2017, @10:11AM (1 child)

    by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Thursday December 14 2017, @10:11AM (#609639) Journal

    "Moony McMoonFace" sadly absent from list of potential names.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday December 14 2017, @04:18PM

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday December 14 2017, @04:18PM (#609742) Journal []

    To prevent a Boaty McBoatface redux, the New Horizons team is allowing you to pick from a number of options or submit your own name for consideration by December 1st. The poll is only to gauge support; they will decide which name(s) to submit to the IAU (which could also reject the name(s)). And the binary (trinary?) status of 2014 MU69 is likely to affect the name(s) chosen.

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