a statement new analysis Pictures taken by NASA’s “New Horizons” mission of ice volcanoes on the planet Pluto, a new surprise for astronomers, represented in the possibility of containing a type of life previously.
Pluto was called a “dwarf planet” after the International Astronomical Union established a new definition of planets in 2006, and it did not meet the criteria that required it to be called a self-contained planet.
and Pluto, located at the edge of our solar system, in Kuiper beltwhich contains the largest number of icy bodies out there that orbit away from the Sun.
This unique icy world, with an average temperature of minus 232 degrees Celsius, is home to mountains, valleys, glaciers, and plains, so much so that if you were to stand on its surface, you’d see blue skies with red snow, according to the News Network.CNN“.
And a new analysis of images taken in 2015 shows a bumpy and domed region on Pluto unlike any other part of the world or the rest of our cosmic neighborhood.
An analysis of images of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reveals an area of the dwarf planet dominated by relatively recent ice volcano activity, which contains volcanoes up to 7km tall. The findings are published in @NatureComms: https://t.co/jlj8yX450c pic.twitter.com/VA0lVg0FzS
— Springer Nature (@SpringerNature) March 30, 2022
“We found a field of very large ice volcanoes that is unlike anything else we’ve seen in the solar system,” said Kelsey Singer, a senior researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, US.
It revealed that some of the domes observed in the images are merging together to form larger mountains.
Those ice volcanoes, she said, moved material from the subsurface to the surface and created new terrain.
Expressing that scene, she says, “The water quickly turned into ice once it reached the freezing temperatures of Pluto’s surface.”
Singer said the way these ice volcanoes look is very different from any volcanoes across the solar system, whether they are ice or rocky volcanoes.
“They have made tall mountains, and they have big ridges all over the place,” she says.
Since Pluto has a rocky surface, scientists believe the planet lacks a lot of internal heating, which is necessary to stimulate volcanic activity, and a rationale for none of it erupting.
The research team led by Singer also noted that the area had no craters, indicating that the ice volcanoes were relatively active and that Pluto’s surface depth contains residual heat, but it is distant.
Singer added that ice volcanoes likely formed “in multiple time loops” and were likely active 100 million to 200 million years ago.
“Maybe this icy substance was a mixture of ice and water,” she said.
She explained that the very cold weather on the surface of Pluto made it difficult for water to remain liquid for long.
When New Horizons flew near this area, the team saw no current glacial volcanic activity, but they said it was possible that glacial volcanoes were still active.
“It can be like volcanoes on Earth that lie dormant for some time and then activate again,” they said.
And the finding of these ice volcanoes could indicate that the subsurface ocean is still present and that liquid water could be close to the surface.
Combined with the idea that Pluto has a much warmer interior than previously thought, the findings raise intriguing questions about the possibility of the dwarf planet harboring past life.
In this context, Singer said: “There are still a lot of challenges for any organisms trying to survive there, they will still need some continuous sources of nutrients, and if the volcanoes are episodic the heat and water available is variable, and it will be difficult for any organisms to survive. “
Verifying these hypotheses would require sending an orbiter to Pluto, but Singer said: “If we send a future mission, we can use ice-penetrating radar to go directly into Pluto’s depth to see what the volcanic plumbing looks like there.”