Hotspot volcanoes

Pluto has ICE VOLCANOES that were “recently” active – including one the size of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa

Pluto has ice volcanoes, including one the size of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, new images taken by NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft have revealed.

The images show an area of ​​the dwarf planet that contains volcanoes up to 4.3 miles (7 km) high that were “relatively recently” active.

Ice volcanoes have already been discovered in several other places in our solar system, including on Saturn’s moon Titan and the dwarf planet Ceres.

However, their discovery on Pluto is somewhat surprising, as previous research had suggested that the interior of the dwarf planet was not producing enough heat to fuel volcanic activity.

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Pluto has ice volcanoes (highlighted in blue), including one the size of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, new images taken by NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft have revealed

Is Pluto a planet?

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union established a definition of a planet that required it to “clear” its orbit, or in other words, be the greatest gravitational force in its orbit.

Since Neptune’s gravity influences Pluto, and Pluto shares its orbit with gases and frozen objects in the Kuiper Belt, this meant that Pluto no longer had planetary status.

Pluto has been relegated from its definition of a planet to a dwarf planet, which, despite its name, is not a “planet” as defined by the IAU.

The main difference between a “dwarf planet” and a “planet” is that the latter does not dominate its region of space.

Prior to 2006, there had never been a formal definition of what constituted a planet.

Scientists argue that this means Pluto’s retrograde is unfair and unreasonable.

“Just so you know, in my opinion, Pluto is a planet,” said former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

In the study, researchers from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado analyzed images taken by New Horizons of an area southwest of the Sputnik Planitia Ice Cap.

This ice sheet covers an ancient impact basin about 1,000 km wide and has large elevations with irregular sides.

Their analysis of the images indicates that the area is likely covered in ice volcanoes – also called cryovolcanoes – and is mostly water ice.

The ice volcanoes range in height from a few miles to 4.3 miles (7 km) high and are 6.2 miles (10 km) to 93 miles (150 km) in diameter, with some merging to form even larger structures large, according to the team.

In particular, the largest ice volcano, known as Wright Mons, is about the same size as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, one of Earth’s largest volcanoes.

Based on the terrain in the area, the researchers suggest it is likely that several eruptions have taken place in the past, although a precise timeline remains uncertain.

While much of Pluto’s surface is littered with impact craters, the area with the ice volcanoes appears to be non-impact.

This suggests that the cryovolcanic activity was “relatively recent”, according to the researchers.

It may also indicate that the internal structure of Pluto has more heat than previously thought, to drive this cryovolcanic activity.

In their study, published in Nature Communications, the researchers, led by Kelsi Singer, wrote: “The existence of these massive features suggests that the interior structure and evolution of Pluto either allows for better heat retention or more global heat than predicted prior to New Horizons, which enabled the mobilization of water-ice-rich material late in Pluto’s history.

Based on the terrain in the area, the researchers suggest it is likely that several eruptions have taken place in the past, although a specific timeline remains unclear.

Based on the terrain in the area, the researchers suggest it is likely that several eruptions have taken place in the past, although a specific timeline remains unclear.

In particular, the largest ice volcano, known as Wright Mons, is about the same size as Hawaii's Mauna Loa - one of Earth's largest volcanoes (pictured)

In particular, the largest ice volcano, known as Wright Mons, is about the same size as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa – one of Earth’s largest volcanoes (pictured)

While many of us grew up learning that Pluto was a planet, since 2006 it has been defined as a dwarf planet.

That year, the International Astronomical Union established a definition of a planet that required it to “clear” its orbit, or in other words, to be the greatest gravitational force in its orbit.

Since Neptune’s gravity influences Pluto, and Pluto shares its orbit with gases and frozen objects in the Kuiper Belt, this meant that Pluto no longer had planetary status.

Pluto has been relegated from its definition of a planet to a dwarf planet, which, despite its name, is not a “planet” as defined by the IAU.

NASA's New Horizons mission is helping us understand the worlds on the outskirts of our solar system by carrying out the first reconnaissance of the dwarf planet Pluto and venturing deeper into the distant and mysterious Kuiper Belt - a relic of the formation of the solar system

NASA’s New Horizons mission is helping us understand the worlds on the outskirts of our solar system by carrying out the first reconnaissance of the dwarf planet Pluto and venturing deeper into the distant and mysterious Kuiper Belt – a relic of the formation of the solar system

While many of us grew up learning that Pluto was a planet, since 2006 it has been defined as a dwarf planet.

While many of us grew up learning that Pluto was a planet, since 2006 it has been defined as a dwarf planet.

The main difference between a “dwarf planet” and a “planet” is that the latter does not dominate its region of space.

Prior to 2006, there had never been a formal definition of what constituted a planet.

Scientists argue that this means Pluto’s retrograde is unfair and unreasonable.

“Just so you know, in my opinion, Pluto is a planet,” said former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.