Keeping It Cool in Pluto’s Haze

pluto haze

The New Horizons spacecraft discovered that the temperature of Pluto’s atmosphere is much lower than the previous estimates. The cooling mechanism is still a mystery, although modeling by Xi Zhang and his team suggests that a chemical reaction, originating from haze particles in the atmosphere, dominates heating and cooling by radiative equilibrium with atmospheric gas. The team suggests that Pluto will appear much brighter than a blackbody in mid-infrared wavelengths, a prediction that could be tested by the James Webb Space Telescope. READ MORE »