Scientists have discovered that Pluto’s atmosphere is undergoing strange changes.
Ice dwarf planets more than 3 billion miles (4.8 billion kilometers) from Earth Kuiper belt, Attracted the attention of astronomers when passing in front of the stars in 2018.
With star backlight Pluto, The team of researchers was able to observe the dwarf planets and their atmosphere. With this unique perspective, they came to a surprising conclusion. It is explained in a new study.
Astronomers found the evidence Pluto atmosphere It’s starting to disappear.
Related: Why is Pluto no longer a planet?
The team used telescopes in multiple locations in both the United States and Mexico to observe Pluto and its thin atmosphere, made primarily of nitrogen, like Earth.Pluto’s atmosphere is supported by the vapor pressure of the ice above Dwarf planetSurface. Therefore, warming ice on Pluto can dramatically change the density of the atmosphere. According to the statement From the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), home of several members of the research team.
Pluto has been steadily moving away from the Sun for about 25 years, so its surface temperature has dropped. And in these recent observations, researchers have found evidence that Pluto’s atmosphere is actually refreezing on its surface as dwarf planets get colder and colder. Pluto is so far away from the Sun that, over time, it becomes clearly farther (and colder) before it approaches the Sun in other areas of its vast orbit.
Pluto’s surface pressure and atmospheric density continued to rise until 2018, thanks to a phenomenon called thermal inertia. In essence, Pluto had residual heat from the time it approached the Sun. But as inertia begins to decline and Pluto cools, more and more of its atmosphere will freeze to its surface and “disappear.”
“Similar to this is how the sun heats the sand on the beach,” said Leslie Young, a Scientist at SwRI staff who studies the interaction of ice small solar system bodies with their surfaces and the atmosphere. Said in the same statement.
“Sunlight is strongest at noon, but sand continues to absorb heat during the afternoon, so it gets hottest late in the afternoon. The continuous persistence of Pluto’s atmosphere is the nitrogen-ice reservoir on the surface of Pluto. Is warmed by the heat stored under the surface, suggesting that they have been maintained. New data suggest that they are beginning to cool. “
So how did you understand this just by seeing Pluto move in front of the star?
Researchers have seen Pluto move in front of it and disappear as the dwarf planets pass and return to view. According to the statement, the rate at which stars disappear and disappear, a transition that lasts about two minutes, could be used to determine the density of the dwarf planet’s atmosphere.
This method relies on what is called “occultation”. This is an event that occurs when an object in one universe is hidden by another object passing in front of it. Studying occultation is an old and worn-out technique in the astronomical world, and researchers have been using it to study Pluto’s atmosphere since 1988, SwRI Senior Program Manager Elliott Young said in a statement. Said in.
“The New Horizons mission got a good density profile from the 2015 flyby, which is consistent with Pluto’s bulk atmosphere doubling every 10 years, but 2018 observations show that 2015. It has not been shown that this trend will continue, “Young added. See Pluto up close for the first time in the world.
While observing Pluto passing in front of the star, the team noticed a “central flash” in the middle of the dwarf planet’s shadow path. The flash, caused by Pluto’s atmosphere refracting light into the center of the shadow, changed the light curve that normally occurs during occultation from “U-shaped” to “W-shaped.”
“The central flash seen in 2018 was the far stronger Pluto eclipse we’ve ever seen,” Young said. “The central flash gives us a very accurate knowledge of Pluto’s shadow path on Earth.”
Young discussed the results of this study at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society Planetary Sciences Subcommittee on October 4.
The atmosphere of Pluto is beginning to disappear
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