Now We Know Why Pluto has These Strange Features on its Surface

Scientists were amazed at the closeup views of the surface of the dwarf planet. There is a bright plain inside the heart-shaped feature on the dwarf planet, which is named after the man who discovered it.

There are no impact craters in the region because it is a broken surface.

Jeff Moore, leader of theGGI, said in 2015 that it was not easy to explain the terrain. The discovery of vast, craterless, very young plains on the dwarf planet exceeds all expectations. There are impact craters on the dwarf planet. There are no craters in other areas like "Tombaugh Regio". The landform change processes are happening now.

A new study shows how the unusual features were formed. A team led by the University of Exeter in the UK used sophisticated modelling techniques to show that the ice polygons are formed by the condensation of nitrogen ice. This is a phenomenon where the solid ice turns from solid to gas in a matter of seconds.
Despite being far away from the Sun and having limited internal energy sources,Pluto is still geologically active. The surface conditions allow the gaseous nitrogen in its atmosphere to coexist with solid nitrogen.

The image of the heart-shaped region called Tombaugh Regio was captured in July of 2015. Credit: NASA.

The research team believes that the cooling down of the nitrogen ice is what powers the ice layer of Sputnik Planitia.

The areas are roughly 20 kilometers across.

The data from the new study is in line with the timescale at which climate models predict the region will change. It showed that the dynamics of the nitrogen ice layer are similar to those found in the oceans.
The ridged margins were created by heat from the interior welling up in the center of cells spreading and sinking. The new paper states that the proposed mechanism for the convective dynamics requires that the surface cooling be predominant over the heat flux at the bottom of the layer due to radiogenic heating in the rocky core.

Informal names are waiting for approval for a slice of the landscape centered on Tombaugh Regio. The Southwest Research Institute is a part of NASA.

The team said that climate-powered dynamics of a solid layer could occur at the surface of other planetary bodies, such as Neptune's moon.
The journal Nature published the research.

The paper is about Sputnik Planitia on Pluto.

The University of Exeter has a press release.