Dwarf Planet Pluto could be a giant comet





Based on data from New Horizons and the Rosetta mission on Comet 67P, the scientists presented "the giant comet cosmochemical model of the Pluto formation". The team suggested the idea that, in reality, Pluto could be a giant comet.
( Skeeze | Pixabay )

A group of scientists presents a new possibility of what celestial body Pluto could really be as the dwarf planet continues to stimulate debate.

Scientists at the Southwest Research Institute played with the idea that Pluto could really be a giant comet after all. To test this premise, the scientists created a cosmochemical model of Pluto

Cosmochemical Model

Dr. Christopher Glein of the Space Science and Engineering division of SwRI and his team developed what they called "the giant comet cosmochemical model of the Pluto formation."

Through the model, the team concluded that a glacier previously discovered on the surface of Pluto, Sputnik Planitia, has a nitrogen composition similar to that of Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

"We found an intriguing consistency between the estimated amount of nitrogen within the glacier and the amount that would be expected if Pluto were formed by the agglomeration of approximately one billion comets or other Kuiper Belt objects similar in chemical composition to 67P, the comet explored by Rosetta, "explained Glein.

Sputnik Planitia

This large glacier, composed of ice that is rich in nitrogen, was formed in the left lobe of the bright characteristic of Tombaugh Regio on the surface of Pluto. It was first discovered by NASA's New Horizon in 2015 and is estimated to be 100 million years old. It was still being formed by a geological process at the time of discovery.

The glacier has shallow trenches that contain darker material than the uniform surfaces of the glacier. Some of these trenches also looked like clumps of hills that jutted out from the surrounding terrain.

The Sputnik Planitia also has some portions that seemed to have been formed by a process called sublimation, where the ice rotates directly from solid to gas.

The glacier irregular shape may have resulted from the contraction of surface materials, such as what happened when the mud on Earth dries. The irregular shape can also be the result of the convection process caused by the frozen carbon monoxide, methane and nitrogen, and the temperature inside Pluto according to NASA.

Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko

This comet was the objective landing of Mission Rosetta of the ESA. Therefore, Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko made history when it became the first comet to be orbited and landed by robots from Earth in August 2014.

A significant finding of the Rosetta mission was that some of the Comet dust grains contained a suite of 16 organic compounds comprising numerous compounds rich in carbon and nitrogen.

It was discovered that the comet's nucleus was less dense than water and emitted twice as much dust when the sun was heating it.

The probability that Pluto is A Giant Comet

Glein's next step and its The team would examine the nitrogen present in Pluto and the amount of volatile element could potentially have leaked out of its atmosphere.

"A volatile is defined here as a chemical species that can easily pbad in a macroscopic sense between gaseous and condensed forms at the temperature of a planetary body," the team wrote in its paper entitled N2 Primal provides a cosmochemical explanation for the existence of Sputnik Planitia of Pluto.

Meanwhile, "the giant comet cosmochemical model" created by the team suggested that Pluto has a chemical composition inherited from cometary building blocks. This initial composition may have been modified by the liquid water from the possible subsurface ocean.

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