This led them to conclude that the particles are most likely the result of sublimation, where solid nitrogen is converted into gas and releases sand-sized grains of methane in the process. The likely source of the dune grains is methane ice blown from nearby mountains, say the authors, although nitrogen ice can not be ruled out, as a source.
After an epic trek through the Solar System that took almost a decade, New Horizons sped by at a speed of 58,536 km/h (36,373 mph), gathering data as it passed. These gentle winds give rise to the ripples at the border of an ice plain and the mountain range.
Dr. Eric Parteli of the University of Cologne explains that Pluto's low gravity and atmospheric pressure means that the wind strength necessary for sediment transport can be 100,000 times lower than on Earth.
Scientists have found evidence of the existence on Pluto dunes of frozen methane.
"He quotes the late Sir Patrick Moore, the famous BBC Sky at Night presenter, describing Pluto in 1955 as "...plunged in everlasting dusk, silent, barren, and touched with the chill of death..." and says that that perspective has to shift.
The team has yet to determine the height of the dunes; Telfer guesses they're at least tens of meters (yards) tall.
Now, though, thanks to the spectacular images returned by the New Horizons spacecraft that flew past Pluto in 2015, we know that, far from being a dreary and undistinguished body, Pluto is a lively and active object that displays a fantastic variety of landscapes.
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A scientific team headed by British researchers published the findings yesterday in the journal Science.
He noted there are dunes on the scorching surface of Venus under a dense atmosphere and out in the distant reaches of the solar system at minus 230C under a thin atmosphere.
Scientists were surprised to find dunes given Pluto's thin, weak atmosphere.
With that warming of the ice below the surface, methane crystals should enable nitrogen ice to sublimate - and that would allow the methane crystals to be wafted into the atmosphere.
These are then transported by Pluto's moderate winds (which can reach between 30 and 40 kmh), with the border of the ice plain and mountain range providing the flawless location for such regular surface formations to appear.
"When we first saw the New Horizons images, we thought instantly that these were dunes but it was really surprising because we know there is not much of an atmosphere", Jani Radebaugh, study co-author and associate professor in geological sciences at Brigham Young University, said in a statement.
So far, scientists have found dunes on Mars, Venus, Titan (Saturn's moon) and on a comet. however, Pluto's dunes are the only ones that are made from methane. "It turns out that even though there is so little atmosphere, and the surface temperature is around -230 degrees Celsius, we still get dunes forming". They confirmed that education is a dune composed of methane ice sand. It's expected to zip past the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule - orbiting 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto - on January 1.