Pluto, which lost its status as a planet a few years back is confronted with a new problem. Scientists have found out that the atmosphere is going through a strange transformation. The icy dwarf celestial body which lies over 4.8 billion kilometres away from the earth is moving farther away from the sun.
In the United States and Mexico, telescopes have been used at multiple sites to further study Pluto’s thin atmosphere. Scientists residing at Southwest Research institute carried out research by studying Pluto after it passed in front of a star way back in 2018.
The planet has come to light as it is getting colder and colder since the atmosphere is actually refreezing back on to the surface. The surface pressure and atmospheric density is continually increasing due to a phenomenon known as thermal inertia. But for the past quarter-century, Pluto has been receiving less sunlight due to its farther location from earth.
“The continued persistence of Pluto’s atmosphere suggests that nitrogen ice reservoirs on Pluto’s surface were kept warm by stored heat under the surface. The new data suggests they are starting to cool,” said SwRI Staff Scientist Dr. Leslie Young.
“An analogy to this is the way the sun heats up sand on a beach,” SwRI staff scientist Leslie Young, who studies the interaction between icy solar system bodies and their surfaces and atmospheres, said in the same statement.
“Sunlight is most intense at high noon, but the sand then continues soaking up the heat over the course of the afternoon, so it is hottest in the late afternoon. The continued persistence of Pluto’s atmosphere suggests that nitrogen ice reservoirs on Pluto’s surface were kept warm by stored heat under the surface. The new data suggests they are starting to cool,” Young said.
Planet Pluto is supported by the vapour pressure of its surface ice indicating that small changes in the surface ice temperature leads to the enormous changes in the bulk density of the atmosphere. It took around 248 earth years to complete one full orbit around the earth and the distance varies from its closest point around 30 astronomical units from the sun to 50 AU from the sun.
Continue Reading on The India Saga