NEWS
28/05/2018 06:49 SAST | Updated 28/05/2018 06:49 SAST

Pluto May Actually Be A 'Giant Comet,' New Study Suggests

Astronomers changed Pluto status from planet to dwarf planet, but it’s possible that it’s not any kind of planet at all.

Astronomers changed Pluto status from planet to dwarf planet, but it's possible that it's not any kind of planet at all.

In a study published in the journal "Icarus," scientists have found fascinating similarities between Pluto and the 67P comet studied by the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft in 2004.

Handout . / Reuters
Photo of Comet 67P taken by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft.

"We found an intriguing consistency between the estimated amount of nitrogen inside [a glacier on Pluto] and the amount that would be expected if Pluto was formed by the agglomeration of roughly a billion comets or other Kuiper Belt objects similar in chemical composition to 67P, the comet explored by Rosetta," said Southwest Research Institute's Christopher Glein in a press release.

Based on its chemical makeup, Pluto could simply be a "giant comet," or as Glein said, the result of a billion comets coming together.

In 2006, NASA launched the New Horizons spacecraft at Pluto, which sits 4.67 billion miles from Earth. It wasn't until July of 2015 that the probe finally got close enough to the icy dwarf planet to analyze it.

NASA NASA / Reuters
Photo of Pluto taken by the New Horizons spacecraft.

The SRI study combines data from NASA's New Horizons mission and data gathered by the ESA's Rosetta mission.

All the fuss that was made about reclassifying Pluto in 2006, and we still might not know what it is. Poor Pluto.