Atom & Cosmos

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surface of Pluto

Mountains of water ice roughly as tall as the Rockies tower over a young landscape to the south of Pluto’s heart-shaped region. Snows of nitrogen and methane blanket the peaks. On the dwarf planet, water ice probably behaves like bedrock on Earth.

false-color image of pluto

SPREADING THE LOVE  One of the latest false color images of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft suggests that the dwarf planet’s heart may push exotic ices to its edges.  

giant elliptical galaxy

GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD  The most likely galaxy to host habitable planets might be a giant elliptical such as ESO 325-G004 (pictured, center), which is about 450 million light-years away in the constellation Centaurus.

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