Pluto may have a vast ocean beneath its frozen crust, according to researchers studying a heart-shaped feature on the dwarf planet’s surface.

Captured in high resolution by the New Horizon’s spacecraft in 2015, the bright, heart-shaped expanse is known as Tombaugh Regio, the left lobe of which is formed by the 1,000-kilometre-wide Sputnik Planitia. This plain is thought to have arisen after a meteorite slammed into Pluto’s surface billions of years ago, producing a crater that later filled with nitrogen ice.

But scientists have been puzzled as to why Sputnik Planitia lies near Pluto’s equator and faces almost directly away from Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, pointing out there is only a 5% likelihood that it could have ended up in such a position by chance.

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