Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 November 14
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Wright Mons on Pluto
Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins Univ./APL, Southwest Research Institute

Explanation: Long shadows are cast by a low Sun across this rugged looking terrain. Captured by New Horizons, the scene is found just south of the southern tip Sputnik Planum, the informally named smooth, bright heart region of Pluto. Centered is a feature provisionally known as Wright Mons, a broad, tall mountain, about 150 kilometers across and 4 kilometers high, with a 56 kilometer wide, deep summit depression. Of course, broad mountains with central craters are found elsewhere in the Solar System, like Mauna Loa on planet Earth and Olympus Mons on Mars. In fact, New Horizons scientists announced the striking similarity of Pluto's Wright Mons, and nearby Piccard Mons, to large shield volcanoes strongly suggests the two could be giant cryovolcanoes that once erupted molten ice from the interior of the cold, distant world.

Tomorrow's picture: monumental meteors

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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