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Frozen Worlds with a Hot Secret

Scientists have made a surprising discovery in the Kuiper Belt, a vast region beyond the planets in our solar system. This remote area is home to icy worlds like Pluto, and it was previously thought to be a frozen wasteland.

However, using the powerful James Webb Space Telescope, astronomers have found evidence that these icy objects are not as dead as they seem.

Methane and Heat

The Webb telescope detected methane on the surfaces of two of the largest Kuiper Belt objects, Eris and Makemake. This methane is thought to be a sign of recent “cooking” activity, suggesting that these objects have hot interiors capable of melting ice and releasing gas.

Potential for Oceans and Life

The presence of methane and heat raises the possibility that these icy worlds could harbor oceans beneath their surfaces, similar to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. These oceans could potentially provide conditions suitable for life, although there is no evidence of it yet.

A New Frontier

These discoveries challenge our understanding of the Kuiper Belt and suggest that it is a more dynamic and potentially habitable region than previously thought. Scientists are eager to send spacecraft to explore these intriguing worlds and unravel their secrets.

Webb’s Capabilities

The Webb telescope is a marvel of engineering that is transforming our understanding of the universe. Its giant mirror and infrared vision allow it to see distant objects and penetrate cosmic clouds.

Webb is also equipped with spectrographs that can analyze the atmospheres of exoplanets, revealing the presence of molecules like water and carbon dioxide. This information could help us find Earth-like planets and learn more about the potential for life beyond our solar system.