Scientists on Pluto have discovered ice volcanoes that may still be active – Space – Science and Technology

Scientists have discovered a group of connected cryovolcanoes of ice volcanoes on the planet Pluto, some reaching an altitude of 7,000 meters and a diameter of 10,150 kilometers.

This discovery also provoked a debate about the origin of heat, which creates the conditions for the emergence of volcanic activity. The two hills that rise above Pluto’s surface have been the subject of debate in the scientific community since 2015, when they were first observed by the New Horizons spacecraft. Some researchers already speculated at the time that it may be cryovolcanoes that spew huge amounts of ice mixture.

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In addition, there are no asteroid or meteorite craters around these mountains, suggesting that these cosmic body traces have been overshadowed by relatively recent geological events. However, there is no evidence in Pluto of plateau tectonics, which contributes to the formation and growth of the mountains on Earth. However, New Horizons researcher Kelsi Singer and her colleagues were careful because the so-called Ice volcanism is a relatively rare phenomenon. “It’s theoretically possible, but there are not many other examples in the solar system, they all look very different and none of them look like what is seen on Pluto,” Singer said.

However, since 2015, scientists have gained more information, including topographic and other data, which has allowed them to conclude that the unusual geological formations are indeed volcanoes, although they differ significantly from the volcanoes on Earth.

Instead of the traditional caldera (volcanic crater), the cryovvolcanoes on Pluto have a dome on their hill. As Singer explains, “we think that (volcanic) material is excreted from below.” According to available data, volcanoes spew ice mixed with certain antifreeze substances, such as methanol or ammonia. Nevertheless, according to Singer, this mixture is hardly really liquid, because the average temperature on Pluto is 40 Kelvin, ie 233 degrees Celsius below zero.

“So it’s probably either a slurry, or it may even be mostly solid as a solid glacier,” which is still moving and changing, Singer added.

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However, this explanation is also quite surprising, Singer continues. Due to the extremely low temperature, this material should not move at all. It is thus possible that Pluto’s core is warmer than previously thought and that the heat created by the decay of its radioactive elements is released at regular intervals, causing volcanic eruptions.

However, as the researcher notes, so far these are only possible explanations for the scientific team, which has very little information about what is happening beneath Pluto’s surface. However, the original assumption that Pluto is an idle ice ball is becoming increasingly unlikely, comments The Guardian.


Source: Pravda – Veda a technika by vat.pravda.sk.

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