Changes are happening on Pluto. That’s what researchers at the Southwest Research Institute tell us. According to the results of a study published in the journal Icarus, the dwarf planet is slowly losing its atmosphere. The authors of this study announced the news on October 4, 2021.
He made this discovery by analyzing data obtained during the passage of Pluto in front of a star in August 2018. Thanks to images captured by telescopes, researchers didn’t miss any fragments of its passage. Thus they were able to get a more complete view of the dwarf planet’s atmosphere.
According to him, the density of Pluto’s atmosphere is gradually decreasing.
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data received by occult
On Pluto, the atmosphere is primarily composed of nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide. All the ice on the planet’s surface allows it to maintain its atmosphere. When the temperature on Pluto changes, it can affect its ice surface and change the atmospheric density.
Scientists use a technique called occultation to study what’s happening on Pluto. It involves using a very distant star located in the background to illuminate the surface of the planet. This made it possible to obtain clear images of Pluto. As planetary scientist Eliot Young explains, occultation is a technique used by researchers to monitor atmospheric changes on Pluto since 1988.
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Temperature drop on Pluto
The researchers indicated that the decrease in atmospheric density on Pluto is due to the cooler temperatures there. Indeed, it should be known that the atmosphere of Pluto is formed due to the evaporation of the ice on its surface.
When the temperature drops, nitrogen freezes at the surface and is trapped in the ice instead of rising into the atmosphere under the influence of heat. This is what causes the gradual disappearance of the atmosphere on Pluto. Currently, the temperature on Pluto is dropping as it moves further away from the Sun. Hence it receives less heat than usual.
Note that it takes 248 years for Pluto to orbit the Sun. The distance between them is 30 to 50 astronomical units, knowing that one astronomical unit is equal to 150 million kilometers.
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