New radio images collected by a series of telescopes on Earth have for the first time seen the direct effect of this volcanic activity on the lunar atmosphere.
A study, including data collected from these images, has been approved for future publication in the journal Earth Sciences.
Images captured by Alma, or the Atacama Large millimeter / submillimeter array in Chile, provide a new perspective on the moon and its yellow, white, orange and red hues. These colors are due to sulfur gases from many lunar volcanoes that freeze when meeting the cold temperatures of the icy surface.
Although the idea of a new moon in a volcano suggests that Io would be a hot celestial body, the surface of Io is always frozen at negative 230 degrees Fahrenheit.
Io’s atmosphere is so faint that it is almost a billion times thinner than Earth. Previous observations and lunar studies have shown that this atmosphere is very similar to sulfur dioxide gas.
“However, it is not known what process dynamics in the Io’s environment leads to,” said study author Imke de Peter, a professor of astronomy, earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. “Is this volcanic activity, or gas that has moved from an icy surface (solid to gaseous state) when Io is in the sun?”
Researchers used Alma to capture images of the moon as it moved in and out of Jupiter’s shadow to better understand the lunar environment.
“When Io passes through the shadow of Gupiter, and is exposed to direct sunlight, it is too cold for sulfur dioxide gas, and it condenses on the surface of Io. During that time we can only see volcanic-sour sulfur dioxide. So we can see exactly how. “Volcanic activity has a profound effect on the environment,” said Statia Lucas Cook, a co-authored and observational astrophysicist at Columbia University.
The clarity of the Alma images reveals different plants of sulfur dioxide and sulfur monoxide coming from the volcano, contributing between 30% and 50% of the lunar atmosphere. Scientists also found potassium chloride gas, which is a common component of magma emerging from volcanoes. Researchers believe that this suggests that magma deposits differ between volcanoes.
Io is a little bigger than our moon, but it can’t be any different. Moreover, its environment is unlike anything found on Earth.
The moon, a creature named for woman Rat who during the battle between Zeus and Hera in Greek mythology. Has been converted into lava fountains that can erupt to reach dozens of miles high.
Some of Iowa’s volcanoes are so powerful that their eruptions can be seen on Earth using large telescopes.
The surface is also covered with lakes of molten silicate lava. With such dramatic landmarks it would be adventurous to fly through Io, but you wouldn’t want to be there.
Io is trapped between the massive gravity of Jupiter and the orbits of other lunar planets such as Europa and Ganymede, contributing to the action on Io. Some of its volcanoes are huge, such as Loki Patera, which is 124 miles across.
The moon is in a completely locked bit orbit around the planet, meaning that only one side of the moon always faces the planet.
Hot volcano on the cold moon
ALMA images reveal that Io’s atmosphere becomes incredibly unstable as it passes through the vast shadow of Mercury. It orbits Io around Mercury every 42 hours.
During these “eclipses”, Io’s sulfur dioxide gas drops, suggesting that the Moon’s lower atmosphere basically collapses and freezes on the surface. But as Io emerges from the shadow of Jupiter and receives sunshine, the gas returns.
“As Io goes into the sun, the temperature rises, and you are immersed in all this (sulfur dioxide) ice gas, and you improve the atmosphere in about 10 minutes, much faster than the models predicted. ” .
But the researchers’ data showed that not all sulfur dioxide gas condenses during Jupiter’s shadow, temperature drops during Io experiments. In fact, LMA was able to detect global radio emissions of sulfur dioxide from what researchers call surrounding volcanoes, which do not detect smoke or particles, but release gases into the atmosphere from condensation and freezing. Is hot enough to escape.
How do these hot processes appear on such a cold moon? The sounds of Jupiter, Ganymede and Europa heat up the interior of Io, creating a volcano that releases hot sulfur dioxide gas.
Eventually, sulfur dioxide accumulates and solidifies in a dense layer of ice on the surface of the IO. That layer is coated with volcanic dust, which forms Io’s signature colors.
“By studying the atmosphere and volcanic activity of Io, we learn not only about volcanoes, but also the process of ships and the interior of Io,” said Luzak-Cook.
Future observations and studies will allow researchers to determine the temperature of the atmosphere below Io, which is still unknown.