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It's time to move on from the problematic “Is Pluto a planet?” debate. For there could be life beneath Pluto, and there could be many more ocean worlds in the Milky Way than previously thought, according to new research that theorizes that a possibly life-supporting subsurface ocean could exist on the distant icy dwarf planet Pluto.

 

Previously thought to be a frozen world of ice, scientists in Japan have identified an area on Pluto the size of Texas called Sputnik Planitia that may have a liquid water ocean beneath it that's insulated from the otherwise frozen conditions at the dwarf planet.

For now, astronomers presume life is most likely on planets that, like Earth (the only place where life is proven to exist), orbit in a “not too cold, not too hot” orbit cutely named the “Goldilocks zone.” This new research could widen the net. “This could mean there are more oceans in the Universe than previously thought, making the existence of extraterrestrial life more plausible,” says Shunichi Kamata, Associate Professor at Hokkaido University, the lead researcher on a paper entitled “Pluto's ocean is capped and insulated by gas hydrates”, which has just been published in Nature Geosciences.

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Category: Science