Pluto has had a pretty interesting past in the last few decades. Long regarded as the ninth official planet, astronomers decided to redefine what "planet" really means to reclassify Pluto as "dwarf planet" in 2006. Then, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft paid the icy dwarf in 2015, giving us a better insight surface than ever. A new study on the formation of the planet suggests that Pluto is indeed the result of a collision between one billion comets.
The new research, published in the journal Icarus, uses the wealth of data collected by the New Horizons Mission to suggest the possibility that Pluto is really just a large ball of downed comets.
The scientists, who focus mainly on an area of Pluto called Sputnik Planitia, explain that the chemical composition of the region is packed with nitrogen ̵
This object, known as Comet 67P, was the target of a 2004 mission in which the spacecraft launched Rosetta and then hit the icy body flying around the sun. The spacecraft Rosetta remained in the comet for more than two years and collected an incredible amount of data. With this information in hand, the researchers were able to quickly compare the composition of Pluto to the comet, and it seems they fit together well.
"We have developed the cosmochemical model of Pluto, the giant comet, education," explains Dr. Christopher Glein, lead author of the study. "We found a striking correspondence between the estimated amount of nitrogen within the glacier and the amount that would be expected if Pluto were formed by the agglomeration of about one billion comets or other objects of the Kuiper belt with similar chemical composition as the 67P comet Rosetta . "
The researchers also suggest that the presence of liquid water could have changed the planet over time and could even go so far that the planet would have an underground ocean. Scientists still do not know much about the life of the dwarf planet, but this new research is a big step in the right direction. Pluto may not be an official planet anymore, but it looks like there are plenty of secrets to unveiling.