Containing Pluto New images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft have been revealed on ice volcanoes, including the size of Mauna Loa in Hawaii.
Pictures show a portion of the dwarf planet with volcanoes up to 4.3 miles (7 km) high, which was “relatively recently” active.
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Ice volcanoes have previously been found in many places in our solar system, including Saturn’s moon Titan and the dwarf planet Ceres. However, their discovery on Pluto is surprising. Previous research has shown that the interior of a dwarf planet does not generate enough heat to activate volcanic activity.
In the study, researchers from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, examined images taken by New Horizons in the southwestern part of the Sputnik Planetia ice sheet.
This ice sheet covers an ancient plateau about 620 miles (1,000 km) wide and has large elevations with irregular sides.
Their analysis of the images suggests that the area may have been covered by icebergs – also known as icebergs – and that they were mainly water ice.
Glaciers range in height from a few miles to 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) and 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) in width to 93 miles (150 kilometers), some of which together form large structures, the group said.
In particular, the largest glacier known as the Wright Mons is about the size of Mauna Loa in Hawaii – one of the largest volcanoes on Earth.
Based on the topography of the region, researchers suggest that many volcanic eruptions may have occurred in the past, although the exact timeline is unclear.
This indicates that glacier activity is “relatively recent,” according to researchers.
This may indicate that Pluto’s internal structure is hotter than previously thought, in order to activate this cold volcanic activity.
In their study, published in Nature Communications, researchers led by Kelsey Singer write: “The existence of these massive features suggests that Pluto’s internal structure and evolution allowed for improved heat retention or more heat than was generally expected before the New Horizons. Water ice is the accumulation of rich matter in the latter part of Pluto’s history.
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