quinta-feira, 24 de novembro de 2016

Astronomy pictures of the day - 2016 November 24 - Pluto's Sputnik Planum

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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Pluto's Sputnik Planum 
Image Credit: NASAJohns Hopkins U./APLSouthwest Research Inst.
Explanation: Is there an ocean below Sputnik Planum on Pluto? The unusually smooth 1000-km wide golden expanse, visible in the featured image from New Horizons, appears segmented into convection cells. But how was this region created? One hypothesis now holds the answer to be a great impact that stirred up an underground ocean of salt water roughly 100-kilometers thick. The featured image of Sputnik Planum, part of the larger heart-shapedTombaugh Regio, was taken last July and shows true details in exaggerated colors. Although the robotic New Horizons spacecraft is off on a new adventure, continued computer-modeling of this surprising surface feature on Pluto is likely to lead to more refined speculations about what lies beneath.