Red-tinged dwarf planet 'Snow White' covered with ice and may be with methane'

   Aug 23, 10:59 am

Washington, August 23 (ANI): The dwarf planet 2007 OR10 - nicknamed 'Snow White' - is an icy world, with about half its surface covered in water ice that once flowed from ancient, slush-spewing volcanoes, according to astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

The new findings also suggested that the red-tinged dwarf planet might be covered in a thin layer of methane, the remnants of an atmosphere that's slowly being lost into space.

"You get to see this nice picture of what once was an active little world with water volcanoes and an atmosphere, and it's now just frozen, dead, with an atmosphere that's slowly slipping away," said Mike Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor and professor of planetary astronomy, who is the lead author on a paper.

'Snow White' - which was discovered in 2007 as part of the PhD thesis of Brown's former graduate student Meg Schwamb - orbits the Sun at the edge of the solar system and is about half the size of Pluto, making it the fifth largest dwarf planet.

At the time, Brown had guessed incorrectly that it was an icy body that had broken off from another dwarf planet named Haumea; he nicknamed it 'Snow White' for its presumed white colour.

As expected, 'Snow White' was red. But to their surprise, the spectrum revealed that the surface was covered in water ice.

There is, however, one other dwarf planet that's both red and covered with water ice: Quaoar, which Brown helped discover in 2002.

The spectrum of 2007 OR10 looks similar to Quaoar's, suggesting that what happened on Quaoar also happened on 2007 OR10.

"That combination-red and water-says to me, 'methane,'" said Brown.

"We're basically looking at the last gasp of Snow White. For four and a half billion years, Snow White has been sitting out there, slowly losing its atmosphere, and now there's just a little bit left," added Brown.

The study will be detailed in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. (ANI)

Rising levels of water vapour in atmosphere amplifies Global Warming Jul 29, 6:25 pm
Washington, July 29 (ANI): A new study has revealed that increased water vapour concentration in the atmosphere contributes in global warming process.
Full Story
New species of mayfly discovered in peninsular India Jul 29, 4:27 pm
Washington, July 29 (ANI): Scientists have discovered a new species of mayfly in the southern Western Ghats in peninsular India.
Full Story
'Perfect sequence of events' behind dinosaurs extinction revealed Jul 29, 1:28 pm
Washington, July 29 (ANI): A new study has revealed that dinosaurs were killed by a series of changes in the climate and environment such as changing sea levels, varying temperatures and extensive volcanic activity that ultimately created a perfect storm.
Full Story
'Body clock' makes drugs for treating pneumonia ineffective Jul 28, 5:58 pm
Washington, July 28 (ANI): A new study has revealed that drugs widely used to treat lung diseases, like asthma and pneumonia, work with the body clock, which makes them ineffective.
Full Story
Comments

LATEST STORIES
TOP VIDEO STORIES
PHOTO GALLERY