Fact Check: About That Brightly Colored Viral Image of Dwarf Planet Pluto Circulating Online

X account @MAstronomers
X account @MAstronomers


A photo being shared online in May 2024 authentically shows the dwarf planet Pluto.


Rating: True
Rating: True


Although the photo does show Pluto, the colors within it appear to have been enhanced.


On May 20, 2024, X account @MAstronomers posted a colorful image of a celestial object and claimed it showed the dwarf planet Pluto.

The X account wrote: "This is Pluto! Pluto used to be the ninth planet of the solar system until 2006 when scientists removed it from the list and declared it a dwarf planet. But Pluto continued orbiting the Sun as before. Pluto doesn't care what others think about it. Be like Pluto!"

Similar posts appeared elsewhere on X, on Facebook in numerous iterations, and on Reddit in August 2023 and May 2018.

Together, the posts had amassed more than 450,000 views at the time of this writing.

Snopes could not confirm the source of this exact photo; however, NASA did publish extremely similar images of Pluto, albeit including less sharp colors, which is why we have rated this claim and picture as "True."

The space agency included one very similar picture in a webpage posted on Sept. 24, 2015, which showed an "enhanced color view" of the dwarf planet. Although it looked the same as @MAstrononmer's photo, some details were different, such as the colors being less sharp than those in the X post. The caption read:

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC).

Likewise, NASA published two other similar images of the dwarf planet in August and September 2015.

Reputable not-for-profit The Planetary Society included @MAstronomer's photo in a 2015 webpage and credited NASA and Johns Hopkins University as the source, among others. The caption read:

PLUTO IN COLORIZED INFRARED Colorized infrared layer from "The Rich Color Variations of Pluto" (PIA19952).

On July 23, 2018, NASA published a different picture of the former planet and said it revealed "the most accurate natural color images of Pluto" if seen by the human eye.

Snopes recently addressed a true claim about Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and, in 2018, debunked misinformation about Pluto being reclassified as a planet.


Catalog Page for PIA09113. https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA09113. Accessed 23 May 2024.

Catalog Page for PIA19952. https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA19952. Accessed 23 May 2024.

LaCapria, Kim. 'FACT CHECK: Has Pluto Been Officially Reclassified as a Planet?' Snopes, 29 Jan. 2018, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/pluto-officially-reclassified-planet/.

'Pluto in Colorized Infrared'. The Planetary Society, https://www.planetary.org/space-images/pluto-in-colorized-infrared. Accessed 23 May 2024.

The Rich Color Variations of Pluto - NASA. https://www.nasa.gov/image-article/rich-color-variations-of-pluto/. Accessed 23 May 2024.

True Colors of Pluto - NASA Science. https://science.nasa.gov/resource/true-colors-of-pluto/. Accessed 23 May 2024.