Pluto Is All Lit Up In This New Composite Photo

By Gizmodo UK on at

You know when you've just broken up with someone, so you post the best selfie you can find? Looks like Pluto's getting over being dropped from the planetary Cool Club by doing exactly the same. Except it's not a selfie. Planets can't take selfies.

(Here's a link to the full, hi-res version.)

This photo, made up of six black-and-white images from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, shows Pluto with an approximate true-colour ring made by the combination of the Sun behind it, and a "photochemical smog resulting from the action of sunlight on methane and other molecules": basically, space's version of an Instagram filter.

The photos were taken by the New Horizons spacecraft, approximately 120,000 miles from Pluto, as the craft flies towards its next target: a New Year's Day 2019 encounter with Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69. The image was taken on July 14th, 2015, but since that date the team has been downloading the images and stitching them together to create this stunning photo. If you zoom right in, you can even see Pluto's geography, with mountains and valleys appearing on the edge, illuminated by the haze.

New Horizons' next target, Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69. Image: New Horizons team

We're sorry we ever doubted you, little guy.