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Story Text | Supervolcano Erupts on Pluto
Supervolcano Erupts on Pluto
This is Pluto. Pluto is part of our solar system. Pluto used to be considered a planet. But because it’s so small, it’s now called a “dwarf planet.”
Pluto is very far away from Earth and the Sun. So for a long time, humans didn’t know much about Pluto. But now, scientists have figured out ways to learn more about this dwarf planet.
This is New Horizons. New Horizons is a NASA spacecraft. This spacecraft was made to take pictures of Pluto. It took almost 10 years, but in 2015 it flew by Pluto and sent pictures back to Earth.
Scientists have been studying those pictures ever since. They look at these pictures and try to figure out how Pluto was formed and what it used to be like.
Not too long ago, some scientists were looking at a crater on Pluto. A crater is a dent in a planet. The scientists looked hard, and now they think they know where that crater came from.
These scientists think Pluto had a supervolcano! A supervolcano is a huge volcano that can do a lot of damage. But Pluto’s supervolcano didn’t shoot out lava—it shot out ice!
Volcanoes on Earth shoot out lava because it comes from underground. Underground lava is called magma. When something happens underground, the magma can erupt, or shoot up, through a volcano.
But Pluto doesn’t have magma. Scientists think that instead, it has a kind of ice water with chemicals under its surface. So when a volcano erupts on Pluto, it shoots up ice!
The crater scientists found is huge—27 miles across! So they know this was a supervolcano. But they also think it last erupted a few million years ago.
Discoveries like this help us better understand our universe. But even though we know more now than we ever did, there are still so many mysteries. So scientists will keep looking, to learn more.
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