15 Interesting facts about Pluto

When Pluto was discovered in 1930 it was declared as the farthest planet from the Sun. But after careful observation Pluto has now been categorized as a Dwarf planet. Pluto is the largest dwarf planet. Let’s know some interesting facts about Pluto.


Image: wikimedia.org

1. Naming of Pluto


The name Pluto was proposed by an eleven year old schoolgirl Venetia Burney. Pluto is the other name of Hades who is the Greek God of underworld.
Source: space-facts.com, image: wikimedia.org

2. The official name of Pluto

After its demotion from planet to Dwarf Planet, Pluto achieved an official name “134340 Pluto”.
Source: geek.com

3. The largest Dwarf planet

After Pluto was classified as a dwarf planet scientists were confused about the average diameter of Pluto and Eris. Eris is another dwarf planet. After careful observation and calculation, finally Pluto was declared as the largest Dwarf planet. Do you know Pluto is even smaller than Earth’s moon?
Source: space-facts.com

4. Earlier Pluto was thought to be bigger than Mercury

Comparison-Pluto EarthAfter its discovery Pluto was thought to be larger in size than Mercury and even bigger than the Earth! But after lots of studies and calculations Scientists decided that it’s not even a planet. It’s just a dwarf planet.
Source: livescience.com, image: wikimedia.org


5. Why Pluto was categorized as Dwarf planet?

Kuiper Belt Object, Artists Concept
Kuiper Belt Object, Artists Concept

Pluto was categorized as Dwarf planet not because of its very small size but because it was not as unique as rest of the planet. It was found out that Pluto is actually situated in the Kuiper Belt and is its brightest member.
Source: time.com, image: wikimedia.org

6. Longest Orbit

Since Pluto is farthest from the Sun that’s why it takes the maximum time to orbit around the Sun. One complete revolution of Pluto around the sun takes 248 Earth years. The path of orbit of Pluto is quite different from other planets. This is because its orbit is tilted when compared with other planet’s orbit.
Source: facts.randomhistory.com

7. When Pluto moved into Neptune’s orbit

pluto neptuneBetween the year 1979 and 1999 Pluto moved into Neptune’s orbit. Around this time Pluto was nearer to Sun than even Neptune. Thankfully Pluto didn’t collide with Neptune when it went in Neptune’s orbit. It doesn’t seem that they both will collide in future.
Source: planetsforkids.org, image: jpl.nasa.go

8. Pluto hadn’t completed even one orbit since its discovery

Pluto was discovered in the year 1930 and one complete orbit of Pluto will complete in the year 2178.
Source: geek.com

9. Low Temperature of Pluto

artist's impression of surface of pluto
Artist’s impression of surface of Pluto

Since Pluto is farthest from Sun it has one of the lowest temperature. Pluto’s temperature ranges from – 235 degree Celsius to – 210 degree Celsius.
Source: sciencekids.co.nz, image: flickr

10. The only dwarf planet with atmosphere

Pluto artist's impressionPluto has an atmosphere and it is the only dwarf planet to have the atmosphere. Pluto’s atmosphere is composed mainly of carbon monoxide, methane and nitrogen but Pluto’s atmosphere is unique in another aspect. During its orbit when Pluto is closest to Sun its atmosphere is in gaseous state. But when Pluto is farthest from Sun its atmosphere freezes and snows.
Source: facts.randomhistory.com, image: wikimedia.org

11. Pluto has the second slowest spin

While Venus has the slowest spin of 243 days; Pluto has the second slowest spin of 6 days, 9 hours and 17 minutes.
Source: facts.randomhistory.com

12. Moons of Pluto

Pluto and moons artPluto has 5 moons. Out of these 5, Charon is the largest. Other four moons are quite tiny as compared to Charon. The four tiny moons are Nix, Hydra, Styx and Kerberos.
Source: universetoday.com, image: wikimedia.org

13. Ocean on Charon?

Pluto & Charon
Pluto & Charon

Scientists have suggested that there might have been an ocean on Charon. A long time ago the tidal force due to Pluto’s gravity might have stretched Charon’s inside due to which it warmed up. This warmth could have led to creation of ocean inside Charon. But now the orbit of Charon is not so eccentric now as it was in past. So, it is possible that the ocean is frozen now.
Source: universetoday.com, image: wikimedia.org

14. Pluto has a heart

Pluto heartNASA had released some photos of Pluto recently which shows a 1,000 miles long heart shape on the planet. The heart shape is due to frost which are actually frozen nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide.
Source: time.com, image: wikimedia.org

15. Pluto’s surface has ice mountain

pluto twilightRecent images from New Horizon reveal that there are Ice Mountains on the surface of Pluto. Some of these mountains are as high as 11,000 feet above the surface. The surface of this dwarf planet is also free from craters. Scientists believe that the surface of Pluto is less than 100 million years old.
Source: geek.com, image: Nasa