There has been a lot of debate going on over the years about whether Pluto should be considered a planet or not. Currently, Pluto is officially a dwarf planet since 2006, when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded its status.
But the downgrade didn’t stop astronomers from keeping exploring the cosmic object. Therefore, a new study claims that there should be an ocean that lies beneath the surface of Pluto. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft provided the necessary data for the study,
Pluto started off with a liquid ocean
Carver Bierson, who is the study’s lead author, declared:
If it started cold and the ice melted internally, Pluto would have contracted and we should see compression features on its surface, whereas if it started hot it should have expanded as the ocean froze and we should see extension features on the surface,
He continued by saying:
We see lots of evidence of expansion, but we don’t see any evidence of compression, so the observations are more consistent with Pluto starting with a liquid ocean.
The scientific community believes that Pluto has formed around 4.5 billion years ago, during the same period as Early Earth formed. The researchers had been analyzing the faults, ridges and other features of an ocean, and their conclusion was beyond expectations: other planets and objects present in the Kuiper Belt could also once had oceans.
Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. It was initially declared as the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992, Pluto’s status as a planet was questioned after the discovery of several objects from the Kuiper belt that have similar sizes.
Eris, a dwarf planet that is more massive than Pluto, was discovered in 2005. The event caused the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define what they meant by the term “planet”. That new definition excluded Pluto and reclassified the cosmic object as a dwarf planet.
The new study was published in Nature Geoscience