New studies based on data collected from Pluto have explored the potential existence of a subsurface ocean. The theory was proposed before the 2015 flyby that provided the data, and it appears to be quite viable.
One of the two studies started from a key questioned related to the planet: did it form via a cold start or a hot start? A cold start would involve a lengthy formation as rocks, and ice particles are gathered while during the hot start, a significant amount of heat is accumulated. Both scenarios can result in the existence of an ocean, but there will be some key differences.
The images obtained from the New Horizons probe suggest the presence of extensional features, with distinctive ones being located near the Sputnik Planitia area. These features are more than 4 billion years old and are a strong advocate for the hot start.
The Studies On The Possible Subsurface Ocean On Pluto
According to one of the researchers who contributed to the first study, the current data favors the hot start theory, mainly since a large number of energy sources have been observed. While the information hints towards the existence of a possible ocean, there is no definite date at this point.
The second research was focused on the ripples which are present on the side of the planet that is oriented towards Chiron. Researchers argue that the ripples are similar to the shockwaves that shaped Sputnik Planitia on the other hemisphere of the planet.
This part of the planet was only visible in low-resolution, but the team conducted a series of simulations. A massive 400 kilometers (or 250 miles) wide object that traveled at a speed of two kilometers/second (or 5 miles per hour) that strikes an area where a deep subsurface ocean is present may explain how some of the ripples formed on Pluto.