Ice volcanoes on Pluto may still be erupting

More heat under the dwarf planet’s surface could even hint at the potential of life.

Gabriel Josefowicz , Student Writer

An area of Pluto that researchers formed from the eruption of ice volcanoes is rather unique in the dwarf planet and its solar system, a new study suggests.

NASA’s New Horizon mission, which launched in 2006, took detailed photos of the surface of Pluto, a dwarf planet and the largest object in the Kuiper Belt. Now a new analysis examines images of an area containing two main mounds that scientists have proposed are ice volcanoes.  In the study, the researchers have concluded that the surface around these mounds was likely formed by a fairly recent activity of the ice volcanoes, also known as cryovolcanoes.

The finding raises the possibility that these volcanoes may still be active and that liquid water, or something of the sort, flows or has flowed recently under the surface of Pluto. The recent activity also means that there is likely more heat in Pluto’s interior than scientists had previously thought.

Given other recent research, the scientists say their work could even raise the potentiality of life existing under Pluto’s surface.