Australian astronomers at the University of Tasmania published a study that said that Pluto's atmosphere could disappear completely within the next ten years.
We were able to build seasonal models of Pluto and how it reacts to changes depending on the amount of sunlight it receives by rotating around the sun. We find that when Pluto is further from the Sun, nitrogen freezes in the atmosphere, – commented one of the authors of the work.
If the scientists' calculations are correct and Pluto's atmosphere disappears, the planet will look different by 2030.
During their research, scientists analyzed the seasonal changes in surface pressure of the dwarf planet using the coating technique. Remember that during this technique it is possible to observe how a celestial body blocks the light that enters the Earth from a more distant celestial body.
This allows astronomers to understand how Pluto blocks light from distant stars so you can measure information about atmosphere density, pressure, and temperature.
It has long been known that Pluto is the only known planet in the solar system that has a pronounced elliptical orbit. It is because of its distance between Pluto and the Sun that is constantly changing, affecting the seasons of the year.
According to recent large-scale studies, the temperature on Pluto is quite low – from -228 to -238 degrees Celsius. The authors of the new paper have found that in some seasons the temperature may drop even more, freezing the atmosphere so much that a kind of "ice vacuum" is formed on the planet.
According to the astronomer's calculations, this time Pluto may not be ready for such temperature drops.
The fact is that gravity negatively affects the planet's atmosphere, destroying and changing it.
We realize that in the last 30 years, Pluto's atmospheric pressure has increased 3 times. Models show that most of the atmosphere will condense from the outside until almost nothing remains of it. Our predictions suggest that by 2030, the entire atmosphere of the planet will freeze and disappear completely, – the scientists explained.
If this really happens, Pluto will look different. The frozen ozone, which makes up the atmosphere, will better reflect sunlight, so the planet looks brighter.