Status Report

Tectonic Activity on Pluto After the Charon-Forming Impact

By SpaceRef Editor
March 26, 2014
Filed under , ,
Tectonic Activity on Pluto After the Charon-Forming Impact

Amy C. Barr, Geoffrey C. Collins (Submitted on 25 Mar 2014)

The Pluto-Charon system, likely formed from an impact, has reached the endpoint of its tidal evolution. During its evolution into the dual-synchronous state, the equilibrium tidal figures of Pluto and Charon would have also evolved as angular momentum was transferred from Pluto’s spin to Charon’s orbit.

The rate of tidal evolution is controlled by Pluto’s interior physical and thermal state. We examine three interior models for Pluto: an undifferentiated rock/ice mixture, differentiated with ice above rock, and differentiated with an ocean. For the undifferentiated case without an ocean, the Pluto-Charon binary does not evolve to its current state unless its internal temperature $T_i>200$ K, which would likely lead to strong tidal heating, melting, and differentiation.

Without an ocean, Pluto’s interior temperature must be higher than 240 K for Charon to evolve on a time scale less than the age of the solar system. Further tidal heating would likely create an ocean. If New Horizons finds evidence of ancient tidally-driven tectonic activity on either body, the most likely explanation is that Pluto had an internal ocean during Charon’s orbital evolution.

Comments:submitted to Icarus

Subjects:Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as:arXiv:1403.6377 [astro-ph.EP]

 (or arXiv:1403.6377v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Amy Barr [view email] 

[v1] Tue, 25 Mar 2014 19:30:23 GMT (129kb)


SpaceRef staff editor.