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Space
2023-11-10 12:03:32

Astronomers have found a «supercryovolcano» on Pluto

Астрономы нашли на Плутоне «суперкриовулкан»

An unusual crater on the right half of Pluto's Heart of Pluto has attracted scientists with its abundance of water ice and deep fractures. Its study will help to understand the internal structure of the dwarf planet.

In 2015, flying over Pluto, the New Horizons station took images of the dwarf planet and collected spectral data. While social media discussed the appearance of the heart-shaped Tombaugh region, scientists searched for cryovolcanic regions.

Cryovolcanoes are like regular volcanoes, except instead of molten rock, they eject a mixture of water and ice. There are quite a few of them in the solar system. They are on some satellites of Saturn and Jupiter, on Ceres and Pluto. As studies show, cryovolcanism plays a prominent role in the formation of the surface of the dwarf planet. By the way, in 2018, geologists from Moscow State University for the first time discovered cryovolcanoes also on Earth - in Russia.

And now planetologist Dale Cruikshank (Dale Cruikshank) and his colleagues found a new huge cryovolcano in the Heart of Pluto.

The vicinity of the crater Kiladze attracted the attention of scientists immediately after the publication of observations of the station "New Horizons". Judging by the data of spectral analysis, it was surrounded by water ice, while most of the dwarf planet is covered with ice from methane and nitrogen. What's more, this water ice had ammonia, an element that can't stay on the planet's surface for long because it is easily destroyed by cosmic rays and ultraviolet light.

The authors considered the version that Kiladze was formed from a meteorite fall, but the curved shape of the crater and signs of tectonic activity in the region point to another origin - due to processes deep inside the planet.

Kiladze crater has an oval shape - 46 kilometers long and about 36 kilometers wide. It seems to sit "on top" of the rough terrain and is likely much younger than that terrain. The study authors suggested that the water ice on the surface is only a few million years old.

"The driver of the volcanism we observe in several regions of Pluto's surface is thought to be internal heat. But we don't know if there is a global ocean beneath the surface or just small cavities filled with water and other compounds from back when Pluto had a hot core," explained study author Dale Cruikshank.

Pluto has a rocky core surrounded by an ice layer. It is not yet clear what is warming this ice layer from the inside. The most obvious explanation is the decay of radioactive elements, but calculations suggest that their heat should no longer be enough to sustain Pluto's volcanism in the modern era. Scientists hope that cryovolcanic regions will help determine the source of heat and the internal mechanics of the dwarf planet.



космос
плутон




Encyclopaedic reference
Плутон - крупнейшая известная карликовая планета Солнечной системы
Космос - относительно пустые участки Вселенной, которые лежат вне границ атмосфер небесных тел.

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