Pluto’s Hidden Ocean Beneath Its Icy Shell Stays Liquid – Why Doesn’t It Freeze?


Some recent studies have shown that Pluto has a liquid water ocean that’s buried beneath its icy shell. Gizmodo addressed the issue of how is such a thing possible and why the ocean does not freeze on a planet that’s located at the outer edges of the solar system.

The same online publication reports that experts from Japan and the US might have an answer to this question.

In a paper that was published yesterday in Nature Geoscience, the researchers seem to be reportedly speculating that maybe Pluto’s ocean is kept insulated by a layer of gas that’s beneath the ice.

If this is a correct assumption, it would mean that this mechanism might be keeping other icy worlds from freezing completely as well.

“If this mechanism is common, then oceans might be common on other large [Kuiper Belt objects],” study co-author Francis Nimmo from the University of California, Santa Cruz told Gizmodo.

Gizmodo also said that this paper is based on more pieces of evidence.

The New Horizons mission 

For instance, the New Horizons mission that was flown by Pluto back in 2015 found out that this planet is pretty complex from a geological point a view.

In the scientists’ models from 2016, there are some suggestions that the “Sputnik Planitia, the lefthand lobe of the dwarf planet’s “heart,” could have a subsurface, partially-liquid ocean like the ones on the icy moons of Jupiter or Saturn,” writes the online publication mentioned above.

They also write that the theory is really wild – to consider that such a distant and small planet as Pluto is not totally frozen and it has liquid water beneath its surface.

Pluto doesn’t have gravitational energy from a close massive planet to maintain tides and help warm the water.

On the other hand, the scientists say that it would be possible that the ice shell has a layer of water ice cages that trap gas such as methane inside. Without this layer, the ice would remove heat from Pluto’s interior.

You can check out more speculation and data in the research.


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1 Comment

  1. If the bible is correct and the universe was created approx 6000 years ago then there hasn’t been enough time for the interior liquid to freeze. Even if a layer of gas was insulating the interior, do you really think that it would be enough to keep it warm after BILLIONS of years?

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