The New Horizons spacecraft, which performed a flyby of Pluto in 2015, passed Ultima Thule on New Year's Day.
Future images sent back to earth will be of a higher quality as they will have been taken closer to the object and will benefit from better sunlight.
Ultima Thule was once two separate space rocks that joined together, known as a contact binary. NASA said the joining of the two objects illuminates the processes that built the planets billions of years ago.
As well as being the most distant object reached, Ultima Thule may be the oldest celestial object to be studied by a spacecraft.
"What this spacecraft and this team accomplished is unprecedented", said Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, before unveiling the first images.
Ultima Thule, a name that was nominated by 40 people, won the public poll.
When asked about the Nazis' use of the term, Showalter confirmed that he was aware of the usage and said that the New Horizons team and NASA, including its legal department, decided that the original meaning was more prominent and outweighed the less savory connotations. "We know this is how many objects like this form".
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The larger sphere is "Ultima" and measures 19 kilometres across.
Among the images the scientists are hoping to receive are "higher resolution views" and pictures taken when the sun is at a better angle for viewing Ultima Thule.
The early images do not show obvious signs of craters caused by impacts. The New Horizons team has named the individual lobes, calling the smaller one Thule and the larger one Ultima.
A 15-hour rotation rate has also been established for Ultima Thule.
Slowing turning, they eventually touched at each other at what mission geology manager Jeff Moore called an "extremely slow speed" - maybe just one to a few miles per hour.
And the objects adjoin at a narrow neck, but evidence suggests they are held together by gravity and not some other force, Stern said.
Planetary scientists have never before seen a close-up of an object like Ultima Thule. "We are seeing a physical representation of the beginning of planetary formation, frozen in time", he said. It's located in the Kuiper Belt, an icy region of our solar system beyond the orbit of the major planets. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is set to fly past the mysterious object nicknamed Ultima Thule at 12:33 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. "In the coming months, New Horizons will transmit dozens of data sets to Earth, and we'll write new chapters in the story of Ultima Thule - and the solar system", she said. Many more photos are expected to be released soon.