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)

Here's how brain makes us want, have and even inhibit sex Mar 3, 3:05 pm
Washington, Mar. 03 (ANI): A new study has provided a deeper insight into how brain is involved in wanting, having and inhibiting sex.
Full Story
You may act more like your mom, but you're genetically more like your dad Mar 3, 2:01 pm
Washington, Mar 3 (ANI): A first of its kind study revealed that mammals are genetically more like their fathers.
Full Story
Nitrate supplements help increase endurance in athletes Mar 3, 1:00 pm
Washington, Mar 3 (ANI): A new study has demonstrated that intake of nitrate, a nitric oxide metabolite, can help in increasing the athletic performance.
Full Story
First-ever photo of light captured behaving as both wave and particle Mar 3, 11:02 am
Washington, Mar. 03 (ANI): Researchers have recently captured the first ever photograph of light behaving as both a wave and a particle.
Full Story
Comments

LATEST STORIES
TOP VIDEO STORIES
PHOTO GALLERY