A paper published on June 22 in Nature Geoscience discusses the ‘hot scenario’ of the planet Pluto which was traditionally assumed to be a ball of frozen ice and rock.

The co-author of this study, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at US Santa Cruz, Francis Nimmo, said, “For a long time people have thought about the thermal evolution of Pluto and the ability of an ocean to survive to the present day. Now that we have images of Pluto’s surface from NASA’s New Horizons mission, we can compare what we see with the predictions of different thermal evolution models.”

On a freezing, the water expands and when it melts, it contracts. The first author, Carver Bierson explained how hot-start and cold-start scenario have different implications for the tectonics and resulting Pluto’s surface features.

Also, Carver Bierson said, “”If it started cold and the ice melted internally, Pluto would have contracted and we should see compression features on its surface, whereas if it started hot it should have expanded as the ocean froze and we should see extension features on the surface. We see lots of evidence of expansion, but we don’t see any evidence of compression, so the observations are more consistent with Pluto starting with a liquid ocean.”

The new findings suggest that other large objects like Kuiper belt also started out hot and could have had early oceans.

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