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Dwarf planet Pluto could be a huge comet





Scientists built on data from New Horizons and Rosetta on the comet 67P and presented "the cosmochemical model of the giant comet of the Pluto Formation". The team came up with the idea that Pluto might actually be a giant comet.
( Skeeze | Pixabay )

A group of scientists is presenting a new possibility as to which celestial body Pluto might be, as its degradation continues to move a dwarf planet.

The scientists from the Southwest Research Institute toyed with the idea that Pluto might actually be a giant comet after all. To test this premise, scientists created a cosmochemical model of Pluto

Cosmochemical Model

Dr. Christopher Glein of SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division and his team developed what they called the "cosmochemical model of the giant comet of the Pluto Formation."

Through the model, the team came to the conclusion that a previously discovered glacier on Plutos surface, the Sputnik Planitia has a similar nitrogen composition as the comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

"We found an interesting correspondence between the estimated amount of nitrogen within the glacier and the amount that one would expect if Pluto resembled the agglomeration of about one billion comets or other objects of the Kuiper belt that are 67P in their chemical composition are the comet researched by Rosetta, "explained Glein.

Sputnik Planitia

This large glacier, consisting of rich nitrogen formed on the left lobe of the bright Tombaugh Regio feature on Pluto's surface. It was first discovered by NASA's New Horizon in 201

5 and estimated at 100 million years. At the time of its discovery, it was still shaped by a geological process.

The glacier has shallow trenches containing darker material than the flat surfaces of the glacier. Some of these trenches also appear like clumps of hills that protrude from the surrounding terrain.

The Sputnik Planitia also has some parts that have been formed by a process called sublimation, in which ice is transformed directly from solid to gaseous.

The glacier's irregular shape could have been caused by the contraction of surface materials, such as what happens when mud dries on the ground. The irregular shape can also be a result of the convection process caused by frozen carbon monoxide, methane and nitrogen, and the temperature of Pluto's heart according to NASA.

Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko

This comet was the destination of the Rosetta mission of ESA. The comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko wrote history when in August 2014 he was the first comet orbited and landed by robots of the Earth.

An important finding of the Rosetta mission was that some of the comet's dust grains contained a series of 16 organic compounds that contained numerous compounds rich in carbon and nitrogen.

The core of the comet proved less dense than water and emitted twice as much dust gas when heated by the sun.

The Likelihood that Pluto A is Giant Comet

The next step for Glein and his team is to examine the nitrogen present in Pluto and figure out how much of the volatile element might have escaped from its atmosphere.

"A volatile substance is defined here as a chemical species that can easily pass macroscopically between gaseous and condensed forms at the temperature of a planetary body," wrote the team in its work Primordial N2 a cosmochemical explanation fo Existence Pluto's Sputnik-Planitia

In the meantime, "the cosmochemical model of the giant comet" created by the team pointed out that Pluto has a chemical composition inherited from cometary building blocks. This initial composition could have been altered by liquid water coming from the possible subterranean ocean.

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