Jupiter's Moon Io

In A First, Astronomers Observe Volcanic Activity Affect On Jupiter’s Moon Io

Science

A group of astronomers has observed the volcanic activity effect on Io’s atmosphere. Io is one of the 79 known moons of planet Jupiter. They used Chile’s ALMA to make observations. The ALMA lets observe electromagnetic radiation. They made snapshots of Io as it passed in and out of the gas giant’s shadow. The ALMA’s high resolution and sensitivity played a key role in determining the outcomes of the study. They saw the plumes of sulfur dioxide and sulfur monoxide. They observed differences between the different atmospheric processes at Io. This was the first time when astronomers have observed the effect of volcanic activity on Io’s atmosphere.

Astronomers noted that when Io passed into the planet’s shadow, the temperature decreases manifold. It becomes too cold. The sulfur dioxide gas is condensed. It was during that time, astronomers were able to see volcanically-sourced sulfur dioxide. They said active volcanoes produce nearly half of its atmosphere. They concluded that Io’s atmosphere is impacted by volcanic activity. Io is the innermost moons of the gas giant. It was discovered in 1610. It is among the four Galilean moons. Io is the third-largest in the list of four moons. In the entire solar system, Io is the fourth-largest moon.

The ALMA images also showed a third gas on Io. The gas that was coming out of volcanoes was potassium chloride. In these regions, they couldn’t see sulfur dioxide and sulfur monoxide. Io is a volcanically active moon. This is because of a process called tidal heating. Io circles the fifth planet of the solar system. Its orbit is not circular. It is like Earth’s moon that faces the same side of the planet. Scientists have previously said that the gravitational pull of Jupiter’s other moons causes internal friction, and thus resulting in the rise of temperature. This phenomenon gives rise to volcanoes. Io has nearly 400 active volcanoes. Its surface is dotted with more than 100 mountains while the plains have a frosty coating of sulfur dioxide and sulfur monoxide.

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