Tag Archives: International Astronomical Union

Why are there right angles on Pluto?

Want to take another trip with me down the rabbit hole?

rabbit hole

It is said there are no right (or 90-degree) angles in nature.

That is true if you exclude crystals or crystalline structures. Other than that, right angles on our Earth are man-made.

Which makes it really, really intriguing that an amateur space enthusiast claims he’s spotted right angles and rectangles on the surface of Pluto.


Pluto is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond Neptune. Primarily made of ice and rock, Pluto is relatively small—about one-sixth the mass of the Moon and one-third its volume.

Discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto originally was considered the 9th planet from the Sun in our Solar System. After 1992, its status as a planet fell into question following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt. In 2005, the International Astronomical Union for the first time formally defined the term “planet,” resulting in the removal of Pluto from the “planet” category.

Pluto’s distance from Earth — 4.67 billion miles (7.5 billion km) —  makes its in-depth study and exploration difficult.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is the first and so far only attempt to explore Pluto directly. Launched in 2006, New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto 6 days ago on July 14, 2015, after a 3,462-day journey. Scientific observations of Pluto had begun 5 months before the closest approach and will continue for at least another month.

Using images of Pluto taken by New Horizons, below is a video by Joe White of ArtAlienTV, uploaded to YouTube on July 16, 2015. White writes:

“Are these some huge rectangular building structures on the surface of Pluto? Full analysis. They run diagonally to the much smaller pixels so are possibly not due to pixelation. They are not JPEG artifacts as this is a TIFF image. Some of these possible alien city structures are miles across. They must be very large to even show from this distance in this latest Pluto image from NASA’s historic new horizons mission. Some of these diagonal structures may be down to chromatic aberration and the fact that this is a composite of 2 images but the larger structures have shadows so I can’t see how that could explain them all. it looks like the image was deliberately obfuscated by NASA with diagonal blocks so as to hide some of the possible structures.”

In order to enhance the right angles, White undertook the following “manipulations” of NASA’s raw images of Pluto:

  • Enhancing light-dark contrasts by making the light lighter and the dark darker.
  • Turning enhanced-contrasts images into negatives, both color and black-&-white.
  • Zoom close-ups of parts of an image.

Here are screenshots I took from the video. Please ignore a tiny sketch of a hand in some of the screenshots. That’s White’s cursor, which I’d circled in red in the first screenshot below. I’ve also painted red arrows pointing to some of the right angles.

Click images to enlarge

Pluto raw image 9.00

Pluto contrasts enhanced 5.21

Pluto enhanced contrasts negative 12.18Pluto negative 4.38Pluto b&w negative 9.28

Bear in mind the caveat that these images were taken by New Horizons from a GREAT distance. The great distance could have distorted Pluto’s surface features to make them appear rectilinear, rectangular, and right-angled.

On the other hand, if these indeed are right angles, the implications are mind-boggling. The rectangular structures would be unimaginably HUGE.

See also “Strange structures on Moon“.



Creation: Largest structure in Universe

“Praise you the Lord:
for it is good to sing praises unto our God…
He determines the number of the stars;
he calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord, and of great power:
His understanding is infinite.” -Psalm 147:1-5

Milky WayMilky Way

A light-year is a unit of length equivalent to about 6 trillion miles (or 10 trillion kilometres). As defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a light-year is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one Julian year.

The light-year is mostly used to measure distances to stars and other distances on a galactic scale. Note that the light-year is a measure of distance rather than, as is sometimes misunderstood, a measure of time.

Imagine the distance of 4 BILLION light years.

That’s the length of a recently-discovered largest structure in our Universe.

Large Quasar Group

Agence France-Presse reports that on Jan. 11, 2013, astronomers said they had observed the largest structure yet seen in the cosmos, a cluster of galaxies from the early Universe that spans an astonishing four billion light years.

The sprawling structure is known as a large quasar group (LQG), in which quasars — the nuclei of ancient galaxies, powered by supermassive black holes — clump together.

From Wikipedia, here’s an artist’s rendering of ULAS J1120+0641, a very distant quasar powered by a black hole with a mass two billion times that of the Sun.

Artist's_rendering_ULAS_J1120+0641Photo credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

The discovery in the deep Universe was made by a team led by Roger Clowes at the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute at Britain’s University of Central Lancashire.

It would take a spaceship traveling at the speed of light four thousand million years to get from one end of the cluster to the other.

To give a sense of scale, our galaxy (the Milky Way) is separated from its nearest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, by two and a half million light years.

Clowes said in a press statement issued by Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society (RAS): “While it is difficult to fathom the scale of this LQG, we can say quite definitely it is the largest structure ever seen in the entire Universe. This is hugely exciting, not least because it runs counter to our current understanding of the scale of the Universe.”

The paper appears in a RAS journal, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.