Pluto, Solar System's dwarf planet could in fact be a giant comet

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That probe was sent to a mission-ending crash onto the surface of 67P in 2016. One of the craziest, but still plausible, Pluto formation theories was recently unveiled by researchers at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).

"This research builds upon the fantastic successes of the New Horizons and Rosetta missions to expand our understanding of the origin and evolution of Pluto", Glein said. In fact, it took until the 2015 New Horizons mission for scientists to identify Pluto's Heart, also known as the Tombaugh Regio, a 990-mile-wide heart-shaped area of lighter material on Pluto's surface. After that, there were uncountable theories about how Pluto might be just another object from the Kuiper Belt that went rogue.

New Horizon snapped the shot of the region in the most detailed pictures of Pluto ever during the spaceship's flyby in July 2015, Space.com said.

The developed model shows that Pluto may be a giant comet, says lead author Christopher Glein (Christopher Glein). The researchers involved said that although there are numerous question marks about the formation of the body Pluto, yet it is likely that it has been formed of billions of early comets. Due to its low viscosity, nitrogen flows like glaciers on Earth, eroding the bedrock and, in the process, altering the landscape.

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The scientists also examined another potential model in which Pluto was created from extremely cold ice. So between the nitrogen ice and the nitrogen atmosphere, the dwarf planet has an unusually high proportion of it.

"We found an intriguing consistency between the estimated amount of nitrogen inside the glacier and the amount that would be expected if Pluto was formed by the agglomeration of roughly a billion comets or other Kuiper Belt objects similar in chemical composition to 67P, the comet explored by Rosetta", Chris Glein, a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, said in a statement.

At its heart, Pluto may be a huge comet. But the researchers' explanation for the missing carbon dioxide is that it was either destroyed by liquid water or it's potentially trapped under Pluto's surface.

"Our analysis means that Pluto's preliminary chemical make-up, inherited from cometary constructing blocks, was chemically modified by liquid water, maybe even in a subsurface ocean", Glein mentioned.

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The solar model for Pluto's formation hasn't yet been completely ruled out, however.

The leaders of the study believe that with the help of chemistry as a detective tool, we can understand the formation of Pluto since its beginning.

The scientists also made some inferences about the dwarf planet's evolution in their new study, which was published online Wednesday (May 23) in the journal Icarus.

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