Mordor Macula


Mordor Macula is located at Charon's north pole.
Mordor Macula
Charon-Neutral-Bright-Release (cropped).jpg
LocationNorth pole of Charon
Diameter475 km
DiscovererNew Horizons
EponymLand of Mordor, in the Tolkien mythology

Mordor Macula /ˈmɔːrdɔːr ˈmækjʊlə/ is the informal name for a large red area about 475 km in diameter near the north pole of Charon, Pluto's largest moon.[1][2] It is named after the black land called Mordor in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.


The origin of Mordor Macula is not completely understood. It may be a deposit of frozen gases captured from Pluto's escaping atmosphere, a large impact basin, or both.[3][4] A leading theory is that nitrogen and methane escape from Pluto and are then deposited into the cold poles of Charon, where scattered ultraviolet light then transforms the molecules into tholins. This theory implies that a similar red spot should exist on Charon's south pole as well—and indirect evidence suggests this is true.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Nemiroff, Robert; Bonnell, Jerry (17 July 2015). "APOD: 2015 July 17 – Charon". Astronomy Picture of the Day. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  2. ^ "NASA unveils historic, high-resolution Pluto, Charon, and Hydra photos from New Horizons mission". Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  3. ^ Nola Taylor Redd. "Mystery Solved? Why Pluto's Big Moon Charon Has a Red Pole". Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  4. ^ Scott K. Johnson (September 14, 2016). "Millions of years for half a millimeter: Pluto puts red caps on Charon". Ars Technica. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  5. ^ Rothery, David. "Mordor mystery: scientists solve puzzle of the strange, dark north pole on Pluto's moon Charon". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-04-10.