Life is not too easy on the dwarf planet Pluto. After it was robbed of its previous status as a planet back in 2006 due to its too small size, Pluto might be facing an atmospheric Apocalypse, according to Digital Trends.
Astronomers have been studying seasonal changes to Pluto’s surface pressure. For this, they have been using a technique called ground-based stellar occultations.
Such an occultation happens when an object such as a moon or planet is blocking the light coming to earth from a more distant object like a star, for instance – a solar eclipse.
Atmosphere-related data can be measured on Pluto
It seems that after observing the way in which Pluto is blocking the light coming from distant stars, data about the atmosphere’s density, pressure and temperature can be measured.
“We were able to construct seasonal models of Pluto and how it responds to changes with the amount of sunlight it receives as it orbits the Sun,” Andrew Cole of the University of Tasmania said in a statement.
He continued and explained that “What we found was when Pluto is farthest away from the Sun, and during its winter in the northern hemisphere, nitrogen freezes out of the atmosphere.”
By 2030 the whole atmosphere will freeze and disappear
It’s already cold on the surface of Pluto, and the surface temperature varies between minus 378 and minus 396 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 228 to minus 238 degrees Celsius).
We also know that some seasons are colder than others — cold enough for nitrogen, which makes up the majority of the atmosphere — to freeze.
It’s also important to note that the atmosphere is changing over time. For instance, the atmospheric pressure went up three times over the last thirty decades.
According to Cole, most of Pluto’s atmosphere will condense outwards until nothing remains. He predicts that by 2030, all the atmosphere will freeze out and vanish.
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