Volcanoes spit icy water on the surface of Pluto


DECRYPTION – Strange lumps never observed in the solar system betray the existence of cryovolcanism.

More than 4.5 billion kilometers from the Sun, Pluto keeps many secrets. Flown over in 2015 by the American probe New Horizons, this star which has long been presented as the ninth planet of the solar system (before being demoted as a dwarf planet) is gradually revealing certain mysteries.

The analysis of various photos seems to indicate that cryovolcanic activity, in other words ice volcanoes, has still recently animated its surface (NatureCommunications, March 29, 2022). “We only have a few snapshots to study Pluto, warns Tanguy Bertrand, astrophysicist at NASA and the Paris Observatory, co-signatory of this work. It is therefore totally impossible to say if the activity still continues today, or if the cryovolcanoes that we have identified are extinct.

An ice cream scoop

The average surface temperature of the planet does not exceed -225°C, extreme conditions that modify the structure and characteristics of the elements that we…

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