Pluto is moving away from the Sun and getting colder, its atmosphere is also disappearing finds study

Scientists have confirmed that Pluto’s atmosphere is disappearing, as the planet moves away from the sun. By 2030, the dwarf planet’s atmosphere may completely collapse and freeze.

According to a CNN report, an international collaboration of scientists coming from eight countries had been studying Pluto’s atmosphere since 1988 through ground-based telescopes. Data from additional studies, conducted by the New Horizon spacecraft flyby of Pluto in 2015, was compared with the data of the international collaboration of scientists. It was then revealed that the planet is getting colder, is moving further from the Sun in its long orbit, and its nitrogen is also refreezing to the surface.

Pluto along with Charon in the background. Image credit: NASA

Pluto along with Charon in the background. Image credit: NASA

The time taken by Pluto to complete a single orbit of the Sun is 248 years. This long orbit and its distance from the star means that the surface temperature is between minus 378 and minus 396 degrees Fahrenheit.

As the temperature of the planet drops, Pluto’s atmosphere, which is already on the thin side and is made up of nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide, causes the planet’s atmosphere to fade.

The dwarf planet’s assessment was made through occultation, a procedure where a distant star is used as a backlight for telescopes on Earth to take a look at what happened on Pluto.

Currently, Pluto can get as close as 30 astronomical units (AUs) from the Sun, which is 30 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. This distance keeps increasing, pushing Pluto into less sunlight and low-temperature area.

According to SwRI planetary scientist Leslie Young, Pluto’s continued persistence of the atmosphere suggests that there were nitrogen ice reservoirs on the surface and they were kept warm by the stored heat under the surface. Young also said that according to new studies and data obtained from them, the reservoirs are now starting to cool.

If the planet ultimately freezes and collapses, it might appear brighter in the sky as it will then reflect more sunlight.