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Pluto may have an ocean below its surface (pictured), thanks to a layer of gaseous material that would protect the underground sea from freezing

A thin layer of gaseous material on Pluto may prevent an underground ocean from freezing

  • Experts believe that an ocean can exist under an ice cold basin on Pluto that was first spotted in 2015
  • However, such a body should have been frozen frozen hundreds of millions of years ago
  • Researchers have suggested that the sea can be isolated by a gaseous material
  • Simulations show that a gaseous layer can freeze the ocean
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Perhaps Pluto has an ocean beneath its surface, thanks to a layer of gaseous material that would prevent it from freezing.

Pluta's NASA spacecraft have demonstrated the presence of an ice-cold basin that experts believe may be on an ocean.

However, calculations suggest that such a sea should have remained frozen hundreds of millions of years ago due to the freezing temperatures on Pluto.

Researchers believe that an insulating layer of gaseous material can keep the ocean warm – a possibility that is supported by new models of Pluto & # 39; s evolution.

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If these gaseous insulating layers occur on other bodies in space, this could mean that there are many more potential life-supporting oceans in the universe.

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Pluto may have an ocean below its surface (pictured), thanks to a layer of gaseous material that would protect the underground sea from freezing

Pluto may have an ocean below its surface (pictured), thanks to a layer of gaseous material that would protect the underground sea from freezing

Images of Pluto have revealed the presence of a whitewashed basin at the equator, Sputnik Planitia, which is thought to have an ocean.

However, calculations suggest that every ocean below the surface of the dwarf planet should be frozen hundreds of millions of years ago.

To reconcile these two findings, an international team of researchers led by the Japanese University in Hokkaido have suggested that the ocean can be covered by an insulating layer of gas hydrates that will prevent the sea from freezing.

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Gas hydrates are ice-like solids in which small gas cavities get trapped in molecular water cages, giving them low thermal conductivity that could provide insulating properties.

To investigate whether such a gas layer could hold an isolated ocean, researchers simulated Pluto's thermal and structural evolution since the solar system began to form 4.6 billion years ago.

They considered the cases in which a gaseous layer existed and where none existed.

Simulations revealed that Pluto & # 39; s underground sea would have been completely frozen hundreds of millions of years ago if there were no gas hydrate insulating layers.

However, with this layer the ocean would hardly freeze.

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Researchers also found that the presence of an insulating gas hydrate layer would delay the formation of a thick, uniform ice crust across the ocean, making it more than a billion years old than just about a million.

Therefore, the simulations support the potential to be a long-lived liquid ocean under the ice-cold crust of Sputnik Planitia.

Researchers now suggest that an insulating layer of gaseous material can keep the ocean warm - a possibility supported by new models of Pluto & # 39; s evolution (pictured: a natural color image of Pluto, left, with its topography, right.) Sputnik Planitia can be seen on the equator)

Researchers now suggest that an insulating layer of gaseous material can keep the ocean warm - a possibility supported by new models of Pluto & # 39; s evolution (pictured: a natural color image of Pluto, left, with its topography, right.) Sputnik Planitia can be seen on the equator)

Researchers now suggest that an insulating layer of gaseous material can keep the ocean warm – a possibility supported by new models of Pluto & # 39; s evolution (pictured: a natural color image of Pluto, left, with its topography, right.) Sputnik Planitia can be seen on the equator)

The most likely gas retained in this layer of insulating gas hydrate would be methane, the researchers said, originating from the rocky core of Pluto.

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This would be consistent with the usual composition of the dwarf planet's atmosphere, which is rich in nitrogen but low in methane.

And similar layers of gas hydrate can offend long-lived, underground oceans on other icy moons and other celestial bodies, researchers said.

& # 39; This could mean that there are more oceans in the universe than previously thought, making the existence of extraterrestrial life more likely & # 39 ;, says lead author and planetary scientist Shunichi Kamata of the University of Hokkaido.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

WHAT IS PLUTO & # 39; S GASSY INSULATING LAYER?

This section through Pluto shows how experts consider an insulating layer of gas hydrates (shown in orange) that lie over an underground ocean (in blue)

This section through Pluto shows how experts consider an insulating layer of gas hydrates (shown in orange) that lie over an underground ocean (in blue)

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This section through Pluto shows how experts consider an insulating layer of gas hydrates (shown in orange) that lie over an underground ocean (in blue)

Researchers have suggested that a layer of gas hydrates could exist under the icy surface of Pluto, above a buried ocean.

Gas hydrates are ice-like solids in which small gas cavities get trapped in molecular water cages.

These gaseous materials are both highly viscous and have a low thermal conductivity that offers insulating properties.

The most likely gas to be kept in an insulating gas hydrate layer on Pluto would be methane.

This methane is said to have originated from the rocky core of Pluto.

This would be consistent with the usual composition of the dwarf planet's atmosphere, which is rich in nitrogen but low in methane.

A gas hydrate layer on Pluto isolates every underground ocean and prevents it from freezing completely.

. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) sciencetech (t) NASA