By 2030, Pluto’s atmosphere may freeze and disappear

Plight of Pluto. In 2006, for its small size it was deprived of its status of a planet, moving to the category of dwarf worlds (by the way, scientists are still arguing about this, and even offered to reconsider its decision), and now also on the horizon is the upcoming atmospheric Armageddon. Exploring this small world, astronomers from the University of Tasmania (Australia) came to the conclusion that by 2030, the planet’s atmosphere can completely freeze and disappear. An article describing their findings will be published soon in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, and yet is in the repository arXiv.org.

Astronomers have studied seasonal changes in surface pressure of Pluto, using the technique of coating. Coverage occurs when one celestial body blocks the light coming to Earth from more distant celestial body. Watching as Pluto blocks the light from distant stars can be measured information about atmospheric density, pressure and temperature.

“We were able to build seasonal models of Pluto and how it reacts to changes depending on the amount of sunlight that it receives, revolving around the Sun. We found that when Pluto is farthest from the Sun, its atmosphere freezes nitrogen,” comments Andrew Cole University of Tasmania.

Pluto is the only world in the Solar system possessing a pronounced elliptical orbit. Because of this, the distance between the dwarf and the Sun is constantly changing, which significantly affects the seasons. On the surface of Pluto are pretty cold, the temperature ranges from -228 to -238 degrees Celsius. Now scientists have found that some of the seasons on the dwarf colder than the other, so that the atmosphere consists mostly of nitrogen, freezes to such an extent that it literally falls to the planet’s surface, leaving a complete vacuum. After this imbalance and unexpected coming of a harsh winter the surface of Pluto may not be ready, say astronomers.

Gravity and length of day also affect the atmosphere of the planet, the destructive force of her changing. The researchers note that over the last 30 years the atmospheric pressure of Pluto has increased in 3 times. Models scientists have shown that a large part of the atmosphere will condense out till there’s almost nothing left.

“Our forecasts say that by 2030, the entire atmosphere of the planet will completely freeze and disappear,” says Cole.

If this really happens, Pluto will begin to look different. Contained in the atmosphere of the frozen nitrogen would reflect more sunlight, so the dwarf will appear brighter in the sky. But changes will be and the surface of the dwarf world. Red-orange color observed by the mission “New horizons” to Pluto in 2015, will be hidden under a nitrogen frost.

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