|Is Pluto gas or rock?|
|Question Date: 2013-05-01|
Neat question! The answer is: both (sort of).
The outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and
Neptune) and the dwarf planet Pluto (it is no
longer considered a planet because of its small
size) are largely composed of light elements like
hydrogen, helium, oxygen, and nitrogen. Pluto does
contain rock, but much of its surface is thought
to be made up of frozen nitrogen (Hamblin &
Christiansen, 2004). Nitrogen is also the most
abundant element in Earth’s atmosphere, but it is
the gas phase. Pluto is so far away from the sun
that it is cold enough for nitrogen to freeze
(about –210 degrees Celsius at 1 atmosphere
pressure). That’s really cold! There is probably
some gas atmosphere around Pluto, as the freezing
points of helium and hydrogen are even lower than
Hamblin, W.K. & Christiansen, E.H. (2004). Earth’s
Dynamic Systems. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Pluto has a core comprised of mostly iron and
rock, and it has an atmosphere of mostly nitrogen
during the times it is closest to the sun.
Probably neither - Pluto is probably made
mostly of ice. We've never sent a probe to
actually look at Pluto up close, though, so we
don't know for sure. It most likely is made of the
same stuff as Neptune's moon Triton, which is
Pluto is ice plus rock. It has a very, very
Hello and thank you for your question! Due to
the small size of Pluto, scientists have needed
extremely strong telescopes to study and guess
what Pluto is made out of, we haven't been able to
visit Pluto yet. It is thought to be made up of
mostly water ice and also contain a small rocky
core which contains some metals, so to answer your
question it is both! The ice covering the surface
of Pluto is made of a mixture of frozen nitrogen,
methane, and carbon monoxide.
Pluto's atmosphere is approximately 90% nitrogen,
and other complex molecules. The interior is
mainly made up of water ice of different phases.
And its core is to have some type of rocky
elements with some metal.
Pluto is a rock. The mass of Pluto is so small,
that if it was a gas it wouldn't be dense enough
to hold itself together. Unlike the big gas
giants, that are super massive, they exert enough
gravitional pull to hold itself together. On the
other hand, Pluto is such a lightweight that any
gas it might once have had drifted off into space
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