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Flowing nitrogen ice glaciers and a thick layer of haze cover Pluto

Shweta Sengar | Updated on: 25 July 2015, 14:12 IST

NASA released a fresh set of pictures which were sent by New Horizons spacecraft when it passed by the dwarf planet Pluto. The pictures reveal that the icy planet is covered with nitrogen ice glaciers and an unexpectedly thick layer of haze in its atmosphere.

The latest set of images show a silhouette image of Pluto, with sun in the backdrop located over 3 billion miles away. The sun is shining around the planet, revealing the hazy atmosphere of the planet.

Pluto's surface

After a deep analysis of the images sent by New Horizons, the scientists have revealed that Pluto's hazy atmosphere consists of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane. The haze extends for as much as 100 miles or 161 kilometres off the planet's surface.

Pluto is reddish in colour and the possible reason for this hue are the tiny particles falling on the ground and leading to chemical reactions.

NASA has also revealed that the surface temperature of Pluto is -235 degree Celsius. Pluto is extremely cold and therefore, there is no chance of the ice to be made of water but Nitrogen.

"We knew that there was nitrogen ice on Pluto ... and we imagined that nitrogen was sublimating, or evaporating, in one place and condensing in another place. But to see evidence for recent geologic activity is simply a dream come true," said New Horizons scientist William McKinnon.

Scientists say that because there are very few impact craters on the planet and Pluto is less than a few hundred million years old.

First published: 25 July 2015, 14:12 IST