Scientists do not know why Pluto emits x-rays

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Ученые не знают, почему Плутон излучает рентген

It turned out that Pluto is a powerful radiation source of x-rays, to be precise – more powerful than scientists expected.

Earlier x-rays were recorded during observations of two celestial bodies – Mars and Venus. Typically, this indicates the presence in the atmosphere of nitrogen or noble gases. In addition, x-ray sensors triggered during the observation of comets.

Thanks to data obtained by New Horizons, scientists may argue about the existence of an atmosphere on Pluto. This atmosphere is subject to periodic seasonal fluctuations in composition and density. In a time when Pluto is closer to the Sun to the minimum distance of solid methane and nitrogen from its surface pass into the gaseous state, while making the atmosphere more dense.

Its perihelion (i.e. closest point of the orbit to the sun) Pluto passed in 1989. When to Pluto in 2015, approached the pictures, there was still summer (a year on Pluto lasts 248 earth years), and the summer atmosphere consisted mainly of nitrogen, methane and carbon dioxide.

If the atmosphere contains neutral gases, we can assume that the ions of the solar wind must collide in the atmosphere with the molecules of these gases. From interactions on other celestial objects provokes the appearance of x-ray radiation. For this reason, the researchers decided to study Pluto with an x-ray telescope «Chandra» and to determine whether or not radiation x-rays. As it turned out, Pluto emits x-rays, and the radiation is quite powerful – more powerful than predicted by all mathematical models.

Scientists are not yet able to say exactly what provokes such a powerful radiation in the planet’s atmosphere are particles of a solid substance in a large amount and reaching to the solar light excites the atoms of the substance, forcing them to emit photons of x-rays, whether in the area of Pluto is the matter density of the solar wind is much higher than expected.

Under assumptions of experts on Pluto focuses the solar wind some unknown phenomenon – hence x-rays and high particle density. However, to accurately determine the x-ray source on Pluto researchers is not yet possible.

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