Editors Picks Space-Discovery Tech of the Day

There are Strange X-rays Coming from Pluto?

Did you Know There are X-rays Coming from Pluto? That’s Strange, What’s really Causing it? Pluto (minor-planet designation: 134340 Pluto) is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond Neptune. It was the first Kuiper belt object to be discovered.Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 and was originally considered to be the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992, its planethood was questioned following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt.

According to the researchers, “Pluto, the first and largest discovered Kuiper Belt Object, lies at the outer edges of our solar system and was the target of the 14 July 2015 flyby by the NASA New Horizons (NH) mission(Stern et al. 2015). Pluto is known to have an atmosphere which changes size and density with its seasons (Elliot et al. 1989, 2003, McNutt et al. 1989, Strobel et al. 2003).

According to UniverseToday, “What’s more, ongoing analysis of the NH data has revealed new mysteries. For instance, a recent study by a team of astronomers indicated that a survey by the Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed the presence of some rather strong x-rays emissions coming from Pluto. This was unexpected, and is causing scientists to rethink what they thought they knew about Pluto’s atmosphere and its interaction with solar wind.

In the past, many Solar bodies have been observed emitting x-rays, which were the result of interaction between solar wind and neutral gases (like argon and nitrogen). Such emissions have been detected from planets like Venus and Mars (due to the presence of argon and/or nitrogen in their atmospheres), but also with smaller bodies like comets – which acquire halos due to outgassing.

After the whole research, the team drew this summary and conclusion;

  • The total signal measured from Pluto in an 11 pixel x 11 pixel box co-moving with Pluto is found to be 8 photons in 174 ksec from 0.31 – 0.60 keV. No photons from 0.60 – 1.0 keV are found in the same exposures.
  • • The net signal is 8 – 1.2 = 6.8 photons, including all backgrounds, instrumental and sky. The background levels measured in one thousand boxes measuring 11 pixel x 11 pixel spread across the chip appear to be normally distributed at 1.21 ± 1.16 counts. The confidence level (assuming Poisson statistics) of our Pluto detection is at the > 99.95 % level, and the corresponding total X-ray luminosity Lx = 2.0 +2.0 -1.0 x 1015 erg/sec (200 MW).
  • • There is no obvious background source confused with Pluto in the four different Chandra visits.
  • • We see no evidence for an extended signal beyond the central 90% point spread function (PSF) centered on Pluto.
  • • Six of the photons detected lie in the 370 – 470 eV range of NVI CXE, and one of the photons lies in the NVII range. Alternatively, five of the photons are at or above the K-shell edge (resonance edge) of nitrogen (400 eV), and one of the photons exhibits an energy of ~ 596 eV,above the 530 eV oxygen K-shell edge. The lowest three energy photons could be from CV emission instead of NVI, given the energy broadening (±50 eV) of the ACIS-S detector. OVII photons are rare from Pluto.
  • • The observed emission from Pluto is not aurorally driven. If due to scattering, it would have to be sourced by a unique population of nanoscale haze grains composed of C, N, and O atoms in Pluto’s atmosphere resonantly fluorescing under the Sun’s insolation.
  • If driven by charge exchange between SW minor ions and neutral gas species (mainly CH4) escaping from Pluto, then density enhancement and adjustment of the SW minor ion relative abundance in the interaction region near Pluto is required versus naïve models.

Now the question that is probably running in your mind is “What will be the effect of this emmisions on our planet?” Just relax do not go away, I will dive deep into it and inform you later.If you have any views regarding the effect, please share it with us through comment.

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