Research

Pluto may be a giant dump of comets

Pluto is no longer considered a planet, but this does notbecoming less interesting subject for research. After studying the chemical composition of Pluto, a group of researchers from the United States came to the conclusion that the dwarf world could appear as a result of the collision of many comets.

Scientists from the Southwest ResearchInstitute of the United States analyzed data on the atmosphere of Pluto and the composition of its ice, collected by various spacecraft, including the New Horizons and Rosetta, and ultimately put forward the theory of the “giant comet”.

According to the most popular model, the planetare formed as a result of accretion of the substance of the protoplanetary disk surrounding the newborn star. But Pluto could have appeared quite differently. Verification showed that the composition of Pluto is very similar to the composition of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, especially the composition of the ice covering the Sputnik Plain. Is this a coincidence? Researchers do not think so.

The smooth ice of Sputnik Plain on Pluto ismainly from nitrogen. Pluto is so cold that this gas is there in solid form. A large amount of nitrogen can be explained by the fact that Pluto was formed as a result of a collision of millions of objects, similar in composition to the comet Churyumov - Gerasimenko, explains one of the authors of the work, planetologist Christopher Glein.

The concentration of elements in the atmosphere of Pluto

Nitrogen on Pluto forms glaciers thatSlowly travel along the surface of a dwarf planet and polish it, erasing hills and craters. The content of this element on Pluto is unusually high, according to American researchers, it accounts for up to 98 percent of the mass of the entire celestial body. Earlier it was suggested that a layer of nitrogen ice on Pluto appeared as a result of the fall of comets rich in nitrogen on it, but a new estimate of the amount of nitrogen makes us abandon this idea.

Scientists have modeled the formation of Pluto fromcomets came to an even more exotic conclusion: the dwarf planet basically inherited matter from comets, but its composition was influenced by ... liquid water, possibly an ocean formed below the surface.

The cometary model explained another riddlePluto - low (compared with other objects of the solar system) the content of carbon monoxide. According to the cometary model, all monoxide could be trapped in the bowels of a dwarf planet. The accretion model with great difficulty explains the lack of JI, therefore, the authors of the work believe that they are closer to the truth than those who believe that Pluto appeared just like the planets of the solar system.

An article describing the cometary model for the formation of Pluto was accepted for publication in the Icarus journal; you can familiarize yourself with it in the arXiv.org library.