On the surface of Pluto, strange clusters never seen before in the solar system suggest that they may have formed from the eruption of ice volcanoes. Scientists are excited about a feature not found anywhere else in the solar system.
A new study reveals that ice volcanoes were active until a relatively recent era on the dwarf planet of the solar system, a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications.
Analysis of photos taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft It indicates that Pluto’s internal temperature has remained warmer than previously thought long enough to allow for this phenomenon.
Instead of dropping lava, volcanoes spew ice “A thick, wet mixture of water and ice, or maybe even a solid stream like a glacier” Kelsey Singer, a researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, told AFP.
We know that there are ice volcanoes on several moons of the solar system, such as Triton, Neptune’s largest natural moon. But the ones in Pluto “It looks completely different from anything we’ve seen so far,” The co-author of the study added.
they exist “Vast areas of very large ice volcanoes, with a prominent undulating texture” In this star at the end of the solar system. It is difficult to determine the exact date of formation of these volcanoes, “But we think they can go back a few hundred million years or even less.”According to Singer. A moment in history that goes back billions of years.
liquid water storage?
In the region without impact craters caused by the impact of asteroids, scientists do not exclude the possibility that ice volcanoes will continue to form.
These findings are “extremely significant,” according to Lynne Kwik, a planetary scientist who specializes in volcanism at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
He showed that a small celestial body like Pluto, which would have lost most of its internal heat long ago, was able to retain enough energy to fuel geological activity until very late in its history.
“This information should allow us to reassess the potential for liquid water to be retained in small, icy worlds far from the sun.” – As in the moons of Jupiter – Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.
This was explained by David Rothrey, Professor of Planetary Geosciences at the UK Open University It was not known what provided the heat needed for the eruption of these ice volcanoes.
One such structure, Mount Wright, is about five kilometers high and 150 kilometers wide, and has a size comparable to that of one of the largest volcanoes on Earth, Mauna Loa in Hawaii.
Pluto is much smaller than Earth. The star was demoted in 2006 to the category of dwarf planet.
The New Horizons spacecraft, which captured the images, was the first spacecraft to explore Pluto in 2015.
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