Nearly 18 years ago, astronomers discovered an icy mini-world called… Iris Billions of miles beyond Neptune. But unlike its cousin, the dwarf planet Pluto – which… new Horizons It was upgraded to a rich, dynamic world after its visit in 2015 – and Iris had no robotic visitors. It is so far from Earth, in fact, that it appears in observations just like a single pixel of light.
Overall, scientists know very little about what’s going on there Iris.
Although what we do know is that Eris is known to have a freezing atmosphere and snowfall on the surface below, thanks to its location near the edge of the planet. Solar System. It is about 68 times farther away the sun from Land He is. Now, new models based on data from a group of radio telescopes in Chile have revealed more about Eris. Heat left over from the dwarf planet’s birth appears to seep out and slowly bend its icy surface.
Related: Dwarf planet Eris is a “near-perfect” twin of Pluto.
This process makes Eris behave less like a solid, rocky planet and “more like soft cheese or something,” said study co-author Francis Nimmo of the University of California Santa Cruz. statement. “It tends to flow a little bit.”
While there is still much unknown about Iris, it is considered…Almost perfect“twin Pluto – both of them The world of dwarves They are almost exactly the same size. In fact, when it was first spotted in 2005, it appeared to be only slightly larger than Pluto, causing panic. Controversy among scholars. This prompted the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to clarify this Definition of planet Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet. Thanks to this disagreement in the scientific community, in 2006 the International Astronomical Union named the dwarf planet Eris, after the Greek goddess of discord.
In the latest study, Nimmo and his colleague Mike Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology who led the discovery of Eris in 2005, known as The man who killed PlutoThe mass of Eris’s very small moon, Dysnomia, was estimated. Iris W Satellites They are both mutually locked, meaning they both face the same way towards each other. Scientists believe this is because the small moon “stirs up” the tides on Eris, causing the dwarf planet to rotate over a period of 4.5 billion years.
The new results show that Eris likely had a rocky core covered by a convective icy crust.
“The rocks contain radioactive elements, and those elements produce heat. And then that heat has to get out somehow,” Nimmo said. “So, as the heat escapes, it causes this slow ripple in the ice.”
He and Brown suspect that Iris’ surface must be “very smooth” as any surface features would likely be erased by the flow of ice.
“So it would be good to get some measurements of the shape of Eris because if it’s too irregular, it won’t agree with our model.”
This research is described in A paper It was published on November 15 in the journal Science Advances.
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