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The terrifying story behind the giant heart visible on Pluto's surface

The terrifying story behind the giant heart visible on Pluto's surface

On the surface of Pluto, a massive core has intrigued astronomers for nearly a decade. But researchers are now proposing a scenario for its formation. A dwarf planet collides with an object several hundred kilometers in diameter.

In 2015, NASA's New Horizons mission revealed a huge heart-shaped structure on the planet's surface PlutoPluto. since Astronomy scientistsAstronomy scientists I wonder how he could have appeared. Thanks to numerical simulations, a team from the University of Bern (Switzerland) and the University of Arizona (USA) appears to have found at least one explanation for the formation of what we call the plain SputnikSputnikThe western part of Pluto's core.

Collision with a planetary body

This region, which is about a quarter the size of Europe, is located at an altitude of about four kilometers lower than the rest of Pluto's surface. It is covered with a thick layer of nitrogen ice, giving it a shiny appearance. The latest simulations are detailed in the review Nature astronomy It indicates that it appeared after colliding with a planetary body with a diameter of about 650 kilometers.

The elongated shape of Sputnik's plain at the heart of Pluto and its location near…equatorequator suggest that the effect was not In front of meIn front of me. It also appears to have happened at low speed. As for the collision nucleus, it is clear that it did not sink into the nucleus of Pluto, as it retained its solidity. “In the distant solar system, collisions occur at much slower speeds than those closer to the solar system. sunsun. The ice cream is good solidsolid. “We need more precise calculations to understand what is at stake.”“, confirms Eric Asfough, professor at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, in A Press release from the University of Arizona.

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A look at Pluto's heart

CherryCherry The icing on the cake for this work: valuable information about the internal structure of Pluto. In fact, this collision alone could explain why the Sputnik Plain, which must have formed early in Pluto's history, did not migrate toward the poles. And this without having to ask for help from the underground ocean. The impact could therefore have cratered coatcoat Primitive from Dwarf planetDwarf planet The meeting between the impactor's core and Pluto's core could have created a surplus of energy MassMass Local migration is easy towards the equator and not towards the poles.