Pluto Has Toxic Carbon Monoxide in Its Atmosphere
In addition to being cold and distant, the dwarf planet Pluto has highly toxic carbon monoxide gas in its atmosphere, new data confirms.
Observations of the dwarf planet made more than a decade ago offered inconclusive evidence of carbon monoxide in Pluto's atmosphere.
The new study—based on data from the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii—not only confirms the gas is there, it shows that the amount of carbon monoxide has doubled since 2000.
"Think of [any gas doubling] on Earth over one decade," said study leader Jane Greaves, an astronomer at the University of St. Andrews in the U.K. Such an increase happening naturally on our planet would be highly improbable.
(Related: "Pluto Has 'Upside Down' Atmosphere.")
In general, Pluto's atmosphere is very thin—about a millionth the atmospheric pressure