A vast ocean buried below Pluto’s surface has raised fresh hopes of extraterrestrial activity, a study has suggested.
Deep beneath an ice shell over 60 miles thick, the ancient body of water could hold the ingredients to life beyond our planet.
Analysis of images from NASA’s New Horizons mission shows that Pluto was hot when it first formed, rather than a celestial snowball as previously thought.
The ocean is thought to have existed for around four and a half billion years – older even than the seas on Earth.
Planetary scientist Carver Bierson said: “Even in this cold environment so far from the sun, all these worlds might have formed fast and hot – with liquid oceans.
“By examining Pluto’s features today we can begin to understand its birth four and a half billion years ago.
“We are pretty sure water is one of the ingredients for life”.
Suggestions of an underground ocean Pluto were explored in 2016, yet this new study gives a fresh indication of how it came to exist.
Previous theories of its formation suggested that the dwarf planet began melting slowly over time due to radioactive decay.
Read more: The Telegraph