London: There is a good possibility that Pluto could be hiding a liquid ocean beneath its icy shell, said scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
The scientists said, indeed, other bodies on the solar system’s frigid fringe could also harbour subsurface oceans, and these could provide the conditions to sustain life, New Scientist reported.
Guillaume Robuchon and Francis Nimmo at the University of California calculated that an ocean depends on two things: the amount of radioactive potassium in Pluto’s rocky core, and the sloshiness of the ice that covers it.
Density measurements suggest a rocky core fills 40 per cent of the dwarf planet’s volume.
If the core contains potassium at a concentration of 75 parts per billion, its decay could produce enough heat to melt some of the overlying ice, which is made of a mixture of nitrogen and water, they believed.
It should have at least that much potassium and probably more, said William McKinnon at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.