Source: News Bharati English10 Nov 2015 16:23:31
Washington, November 10: Scientists, using data from Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft, have discovered what may be giant ice-spewing volcanoes on the surface of Pluto, providing an important new clue to the icy-dwarf planet’s geologic and atmospheric evolution.
The two cryovolcano candidates are large features measuring tens of miles or kilometers across and several miles or kilometers high.
“These are big mountains with a large hole in their summit, and on Earth that generally means one thing a volcano,” said Oliver White, New Horizons postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
“If they are volcanic, then the summit depression would likely have formed via collapse as material is erupted from underneath.
The strange hummocky texture of the mountain flanks may represent volcanic flows of some sort that have traveled down from the summit region and onto the plains beyond, but why they are hummocky, and what they are made of, we don't yet know.”
While their appearance is similar to volcanoes on Earth that spew molten rock, ice volcanoes on Pluto are expected to emit a somewhat melted slurry of substances such as water ice, nitrogen, ammonia, or methane. If Pluto proves to have volcanoes, it will provide an important new clue to its geologic and atmospheric evolution. “After all, nothing like this has been seen in the deep outer solar system,” said Jeffrey Moore, New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team leader, at Ames.