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News Picks : Pluto may share its atmosphere with its moon Charon

By: Physics Today
09 June 2014
New Scientist: Using Earth-based telescopes and computer modeling, astronomers have determined that Pluto’s atmosphere may be warmer and thicker and extend out farther from the planet than previously thought. If so, it’s possible that Pluto shares its atmosphere with its moon Charon. The pair have sometimes been called binary dwarf planets because Charon is so large compared with Pluto and orbits much closer than our moon does to Earth. Understanding such potential gas transfer between two celestial bodies could help us better understand similar systems in the universe. The team hopes its calculations will be confirmed next year when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flies past Pluto and Charon and gathers information on their atmospheres, among other data.


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