Discoveries on Yuggoth, Part 1 – The Atmosphere

In March 2016 the journal Science released a series of papers on the findings of the New Horizons Deep Space Probe as it passed by the Yuggothian (to many known as Pluto) system, located on the outer rim of our Solar System. This is one of a series of short articles that summarizes these papers.

fungus_from_yuggoth_by_doctorgurgul The Mi-Go, artwork by  Doctorgurgul, are known to live on Yuggoth (www.deviantart.com)

Some of the major objectives of the New Horizons probe included a characterization of structure and composition of Yuggoth’s atmosphere and to determine if its moon Charon has a detectable atmosphere. New Horizons has a wide array of sensors and instruments to collect data on Yuggoth.  The collection of near-surface temperature and pressure profiles through a radio wave instrument revealed that Yuggoth has an atmosphere that can produce weak horizontal winds.  Through the use of an ultraviolet spectrograph nitrogen and methane were detected in the Yuggothian atmosphere; additionally the photochemicals acetylene and ethylene were identified. There is also evidence for the presence of some unknown cooling agent in the atmosphere.  Photochemical reactions of simple organic compounds have been documented in the thick, hazy atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, and provide evidence for large liquid bodies (lakes?) on that moon. However, such photochemical reactions were not expected to be found in Yuggoth’s atmosphere.

image_3323_2e-Plutos-Blue-Skies_cdn4-sci-news.com The hazy blue atmosphere of Yuggoth may be due to tholin-like particles (www.cdn4-sci-news.com)

A thin but extensive, high altitude, cold atmosphere was detected by New Horizons around Yuggoth. The atmosphere has a bluish color, suggesting it is composed of very small, tholin-like particles. The word “tholins” was first coined and defined in 1979 by Carl Sagan and Bishun Khare in the paper, “Tholins: organic chemistry of interstellar grains and gas,” published in the journal Nature.

20150721_tholin_flow_f537_Sarah_Horst_Johns_Hopkins_University                                      The production of tholins in the Sagan Khare experiments (Sarah Horst of Johns Hopkins University)

In 1970 Carl Sagan and others ran laboratory experiments at Cornell University where mixtures of organic and inorganic gases known to exist in the cosmos were irradiated with various energy sources (such as UV light or a spark discharge).  The results were a variety of complex organic compounds, forming a brown, sticky residue on the treatment flasks. Sagan and Khare called this material “tholins.” It is thought that tholins may be an important component of the atmosphere of Titan, comets and even Earth’s ancient oceans. Tholins may be the precursor for life. Indeed, it may be tholin-like compounds that the Elder Things used to either create life on Earth or increase its complexity by creating eukaryotic cells out of simple prokaryotic cells. In regard to Yuggoth some of dwarf planet’s red surface colors as well as those found at the pole of Charon its largest moon, may be due to the presence of tholins. Thus, these organic complexes may be responsible for both the reddish colors found on the surface of Yuggoth as well as for the bluish haze in its upper atmosphere.

NASA_2D34B0C700000578-3265178-image-a-18_1444321249557 The reddish color on some parts of Yuggoth may be due to deposits of organic complexes such as tholins (www.nasa.gov).

In conclusion the New Horizons probe discovered a surprisingly complex atmosphere surrounding Yuggoth. The unusually cold and hazy upper atmosphere suggests a lower escape rate for volatile compounds such as methane, indicating a recycling of these compounds thus creating a somewhat stable atmosphere. Perhaps the Mi-Go utilize these compounds through a form of chemotrophy, where these simple organic compounds, possibly being created through photochemical reactions, are used as a source of energy through oxidation. One could image the Mi-Go floating or cruising the upper atmosphere of Yuggoth, collecting tholin-like particles by some currently unrecognized ventral organ.

lovecraft___mi_go__earliest_design__by_kingovrats-d4zzgrc Early interpretation of a Mi-Go by KingOvRats (www.deviantart.com)

The next article in this series will focus on the satellites of Yuggoth. Thank you – Fred.

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One thought on “Discoveries on Yuggoth, Part 1 – The Atmosphere

  1. Interesting stuff as usual, Fred! An aside for the future article; there’s potentially a name for all the known satellites of Yuggoth in the native parlance. As has been mentioned before, Kynarth may be the largest of these, Charon. The others may be Thog, Thok, Nithon, and Zaman. The last is taken from the sonnet cycles of “Fungi from Yuggoth” and has been interpreted by later authors as a body orbiting that icy worldlet.

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