Why is Pluto Turning Red?
Technology Articles 2/10/10
By: Chris Capps
Observations of the Hubble Space telescope indicate that the dwarf planet is suddenly taking on a reddish hue. And with the observation of the mysterious color change come a tidal wave of theories that range everywhere from hard science to conjecture. But why is the dwarf planet at the edge of our solar system suddenly turning red?
Marc Buie, an astronomer from the Southwest Research Institute was quoted as saying, "It's a little bit of a surprise to see these changes happening so big and so fast." Buie went on to say the change was 'unprecedented.' And he's in good company. A great number of astronomers are stumped by the sudden blush on Pluto's surface. Some have even gone so far as to say this sudden change is evidence that the demoted planet should be returned to full planet status. Others are not so sure.
"The Hubble pictures underscore that Pluto is not simply a ball of ice and rock but a dynamic world that undergoes dramatic atmospheric changes," NASA said of the mysterious hue the planet was exhibiting. On their website, NASA has released photos of the planet which depict a mass of orange light enveloping an otherwise dark world devoid of any apparent activity. NASA claims the color change indicates the planet may have seasons like Earth that run full cycle. It takes Pluto 248 years to fully orbit the sun in an elliptical pattern, but NASA suggests that the seasonal changes are equally influenced by the dwarf planet's axial tilt as well. Of course one major difference is that Earth is driven by axial tilt alone. As a result, Pluto's seasons would be chaotic and less predictable than on Earth, as several factors would have to line up for seasons rather than just one. Spring, for example would quickly turn to summer as the influence of the sun would increase as the planet moves faster when it gets closer to the sun.
Are they seasonal changes? Some suggest the color changes are evidence of the coming of an extra solar body. Some might call this Planet X, or as it's known in mystical circles Nibiru. This isn't necessarily a scientific theory, but more of a metaphysical one. Many who suggest the coming of Planet X tie its approach in with the year 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar. The connection here is more tangential than the changing seasons theory, but many feel very strongly about it. Perhaps if feeling is the science of metaphysics then this could be considered evidence. On the other hand hard scientists would scoff at the idea.
Is it truly a scientific world we live in? Or are there forces beyond our understanding that we can feel our way through rather than analyze and quantify? What if humans were struck deaf and blind from their abilities to analyze and left only with their hearts to understand the world around them? Would it be a simpler place? Would it tear itself to pieces having lost our ability to look at its binding laws or would it beat like a heart reminding us finally why we are here? A metaphysical sounding question, I suppose, requires a metaphysical sounding answer.