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Ultima Thule is first contact binary to be explored by a spacecraft

Ultima Thule is first contact binary to be explored by a spacecraft

Science
Jan. 2 (UPI) -- New images and data returned by the New Horizons probe prove Ultima Thule is a snowman-shaped contact binary, the first to be explored by a spacecraft. Early on New Year's Day, New Horizons passed within 2,200 miles of Ultima Thule -- the most distant planetary flyby in history. The Kuiper belt object is currently 4 billion miles from the sun. Scientists weren't able to confirm the flyby until several hours later. It takes a long time for data to travel million of miles across space -- and the first images downloaded by NASA scientists showcased only a fuzzy peanut-like shape. On Wednesday, NASA scientists shared newly downloaded data revealing the distant object at greater resolutions. The new images and data confirmed the icy space rock's classification as a contact bina...
Stellar death reveals compact neutron star binary

Stellar death reveals compact neutron star binary

Science
Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Astronomers were surprised when the collapse of a massive star yielded a rather puny supernova. An investigation of the phenomena suggests a companion star robbed the collapsing star of much of its stellar material, limiting the magnitude of the explosion. "We saw this massive star's core collapse, but we saw remarkably little mass ejected," Kishalay De, grad student at the California Institute of Technology, said in a news release. "We call this an ultra-stripped envelope supernova and it has long been predicted that they exist. This is the first time we have convincingly seen core collapse of a massive star that is so devoid of matter." When massive stars run out of fuel and collapse in on themselves, the material rebounds outward in dramatic fashion. The violent explos...