Pluto was once considered the ninth planet in the solar system
Space agency NASA routinely captures stunning images of our universe, leaving space lovers mesmerized. On Sunday, NASA shared a stunning image on Instagram taken by its New Horizons spacecraft showing a heart-shaped glacier on Pluto's surface. The heart-shaped region is known unofficially as Tombaugh Regio and is made of nitrogen and methane.
The image was captioned as ''Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Our New Horizons spacecraft captured this heart-shaped glacier. It lies on Pluto's surface, which also features mountains, cliffs, valleys, craters, and plains, thought to be made of methane and nitrogen ice ''
See the image here:
It described the image as ''Pluto's surface is marked with cracks and craters in shades of brown. The partially visible heart appears in the lower right of the small world, which is surrounded by black space.''
New Horizons launched in January 2006 and reached Pluto in July 2015, flying within 7,800 miles of its surface, and becoming the first probe to fly by Pluto and its moons. The far-traveling spacecraft also visited a distant Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule (2014 MU69) in January 2019.
Instagram users loved the picture and shared a variety of comments. One user wrote, ''Wouahh what a great capture, thanks to New Horizon spacecraft.'' Another commented, ''For me, Pluto will always be a planet.''
A third said, ''Why is Pluto, not a plane? it literally has a heart!'' A fourth added, ''Being afar doesn't mean you aren't part of the family.''
Pluto was once considered the ninth planet in the solar system, however, it was demoted in 2006 and reclassified as a dwarf planet. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded the status of Pluto to that of a dwarf planet because it did not meet the three criteria the IAU uses to define a full-sized planet.
Pluto is slightly over 1,400 miles (2250 km) wide or about half the breadth of the United States or two-thirds the width of the Moon. With its average temperature of -387F (-232C) - Pluto's surface is coated in ice made of water, methane, and nitrogen and is believed to have a rocky core and possibly a deep ocean.