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Pluto's Glowing Halo | Space Wallpaper

Pluto's Glowing Halo
The blue haze seen around Pluto may be caused by sunlight-initiated chemical reactions between nitrogen and methane, leading to dusty particles in the atmosphere. (Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

The vapor surrounding Pluto gleams brightly in an image snapped by the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). Experts believe the halo is a high-altitude haze created by chemical reactions — instigated by the Sun — between nitrogen and methane. These reactions lead to tiny particles called tholins in the atmosphere. The New Horizons' team used software combining data from three images (blue, red and near-infrared) to reproduce what the view in space would look like. [See more images of Pluto and Its Moons.]

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Space.com Staff
Space.com Staff

Space.com is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, Space.com is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.