Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pluto is apparently emitting X-rays, confounding what we thought we knew.

But that's a good thing.   The science clearly isn't settled.

On a serious note, Scientists have noticed the tiny trans-Neptunium object emitting X-rays, which, if it is confirmed, is both a baffling and exciting discovery.

Until now, the popular description of the dwarf planet is as a tiny ball of frozen rock slowly meandering around the sun some 3.6-billion miles away.

The recent fly-by done by the New Horizons space probe began to call this idea of Pluto into question, as data from the spacecraft’s approach of the dwarf planet indicated the presence of an atmosphere. That atmosphere is likely a result of Pluto’s icy surfaces slowly melting when it is closer to the sun along certain points of its orbit. The loose atmosphere then trails from Pluto, much like a comet’s tail.
One of the possible explanations for why Pluto is emanating X-rays would be that the high energy particles emitted by the sun are stripping away and reacting with Pluto’s atmosphere, producing the X-rays that are visible to Chandra. Such interactions have been witnessed in the interaction between the sun’s high-energy particles and the cold material that trails off of comets, but this would mark the first time an object past Saturn was visible on the X-ray spectrum. It also makes sense given that Pluto, like many comets, is part of the Kuiper Belt and produces a tail.


  1. Replies
    1. I respect it. It was a dark day when the pointy headed scientists arbitrarily decided it really wasn't a planet.

    2. The X-rays from Pluto may teach the scientists some humility.

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