Tags: pluto | heart | formation | study

Pluto's Heart: New Study Explains Formation of Prominent Feature

Image: Pluto's Heart: New Study Explains Formation of Prominent Feature

A new study, published Monday in the journal 'Nature,' offers details about the creation of Pluto's distinctive heart-shaped feature. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

By    |   Tuesday, 20 Sep 2016 11:09 AM

Pluto’s heart, a 1,000-mile area also known as Tombaugh Regio, was the most noticeable feature in the images that were captured by the New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby in 2015, providing new details about the dwarf planet.

A new study, published Monday in the journal "Nature," notes that nitrogen ice is heavily responsible for the creation of the Pluto heart.

“Pluto’s surface is an amazing cocktail of different types of ice that do not exist naturally on Earth: nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide. We developed a thermal model of Pluto’s surface to understand the mechanisms of condensation/sublimation of its ice at a global scale. This model also enabled us to explore the ‘climate’ scenarios that could explain Pluto’s ice distribution,” Tanguy Bertrand, a co-author of the new study, told ResearchGate.

According to the International Business Times, this happens because of a wide plane in the western lobe of Pluto’s “heart,” also known as the Sputnik Planum, which has a higher amount of atmospheric pressure than in other areas. This causes the nitrogen in this particular region to turn into ice, forming the glacier.

“This scenario shows that there is no need for an internal reservoir of nitrogen ice to explain the formation of the Sputnik Planum glacier, as suggested by previous studies. Instead, well-known physical principles are behind this,” Bertrand said.

Bertrand said the large glacier covering much of the Pluto heart will change in shape over time, enlarging and shrinking, which is a mirroring image of how a heart beats, Gizmodo noted.

Pluto is located more than 3 billion miles away from the sun and is more than two miles deep and 600 miles wide, The Daily Mail noted.

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Pluto's heart, a 1,000-mile area also known as Tombaugh Regio, was the most noticeable feature in the images that were captured by the New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby in 2015, providing new details about the dwarf planet.
pluto, heart, formation, study
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2016-09-20
Tuesday, 20 Sep 2016 11:09 AM
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