July 17, 2007—
Shown in an artist's interpretation, geysers of water ice have been spotted on Pluto's celestial neighbor Charon, astronomers announced, offering proof of liquid water inside the far-flung body.
The water is liquid beneath Charon's surface due to the presence of an ammonia mixture that acts as a natural antifreeze, the scientists explained. The water freezes instantly once the geysers spew it into the frigid vacuum of space.
Charon's "ice volcanoes" were detected using the Gemini observatory atop Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii (see Hawaii map).
Astronomers there described the distant body in a press statement as "an ice machine in the ultimate deep freeze."
More Photos in the News
Today's Top 15 Most Popular Stories
Free Email Newsletter: "Focus on Photography"
Illustration by Software Bisque/ Mark C. Petersen, Loch Ness Productions / DigitalSky 2, Sky-Skan, Inc.