How Did Pluto Form?


Quick Answer

Pluto and its moon, Charon, came to be after a massive collision between two icy objects whose total mass was 30 percent larger than the current mass of Pluto, according to an article by Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics. Charon and Pluto were much closer to each other immediately after the incident, but Charon pulled away over a period of 1 to 10 million years.

Continue Reading
Related Videos

Full Answer

According to CFA, some theories imply that Pluto’s four other siblings Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydrawere also formed during the initial event and drifted away. However, simulations by CFA astronomer Scott Kenyon and a colleague demonstrated that Pluto and Charon possibly came into existence after particles amalgamated together in the disk around the sun, in the same way Earth was formed. A subsequent event left the bodies at their current sizes but kept them tied to each other by gravity as a binary pair.

The impact left a trail of debris that integrated in a circumbinary disk, the CFA astronomers add. With time, the four smaller siblings formed from accumulation of debris in the circumbinary disk. Pluto is a dwarf planet belonging to the Kuiper Belt, which comprises a group of bodies that revolve in a disk-like zone, according to NASA.

Learn more about Planets

Related Questions