A Nasa probe has made history after it completed the furthest ever exploration of the solar system.
Signals from Nasa’s New Horizons probe on New Year’s Day indicated it had completed a flyby of Ultima Thule, which at four billion miles from earth is now the most distant object ever explored in space.
Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “In addition to being the first to explore Pluto, today New Horizons flew by the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft and became the first to directly explore an object that holds remnants from the birth of our solar system.
“This is what leadership in space exploration is all about.”
Ultima Thule, discovered in 2014, is a 30km-wide mass shaped like a giant peanut.
Launched in January 2006, New Horizons embarked on a four billion-mile journey towards the solar system’s frigid edge to study Pluto and its five moons.
Gallery: NASA spacecraft completes farthest flyby in history. What’s next? (National Geographic)
During a 2015 fly-by, the probe found Pluto to be slightly larger than previously thought. In March last year, it also revealed that methane-rich dunes were on the icy planet’s surface.
After trekking one billion miles beyond Pluto into the Kuiper Belt, New Horizons is now seeking clues about the formation of the solar system and its planets.