Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers show Io vaporizing rock gases into atmosphere

16.06.2004


Hottest body outside the sun


Io, Io, it’s the hottest place to go. The satellite of Jupiter is the most volcanically active body, too. How hot is it? WUSTL planetary scientists have shown that Io is so hot its lavas are vaporizing sodium, potassium, silicon and iron gases into its atmosphere.



The hottest spot in the solar system is neither Mercury, Venus, nor St. Louis in the summer. Io, one of the four satellites that the Italian astronomer Galileo discovered orbiting Jupiter almost 400 years ago, takes that prize. The Voyager spacecraft discovered volcanic activity on Io over 20 years ago and subsequent observations show that Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. The Galileo spacecraft, named in honor of the astronomer Galileo, found volcanic hot spots with temperatures as high as 2,910 Fahrenheit (1,610 Celsius).

Now computer models of volcanic eruptions on Io performed by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis show that the lavas are so hot that they are vaporizing sodium, potassium, silicon and iron and probably other gases as well into its atmosphere.


Using an updated version of MAGMA, a versatile computer program he developed 15 years ago with a Harvard University colleague, Bruce Fegley, Jr., Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, found that some of these elements are vaporized at least partly as single-atom gases. Others are vaporized in different molecular forms, for instance, silicon monoxide, silicon dioxide and iron monoxide.

"Reaction of these gases with sulfur and chlorine species in volcanic gases could lead to the formation of such unusual gases as sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium dichloride and iron dichloride, " Fegley said.

In 2000, Fegley and former Washington University colleague Mikhail Zolotov, Ph.D., now at Arizona Sate University, predicted formation of sodium chloride and potassium chloride vapor in volcanic gases on Io. Three years later astronomers found sodium chloride gas on Io. However, these observations were not sensitive enough to detect the less abundant potassium chloride vapor.

Now Fegley has found that sodium and potassium in Ionian volcanic gases are being vaporized from the hot lavas. Fegley and research assistant Laura Schaefer of Washington University used data from the Galileo mission and Earth-based observations from high-powered telescopes in their NASA-funded research. They published their results in the May 2004 issue of Icarus, the leading planetary science journal.

"We’re basically doing geology on Io using data from telescopes on Earth, which shows that observations like this can compete with expensive space missions," said Fegley. "It’s amazing how hot and how volcanically active Io is. It is 30 times more active than Earth. It’s the hottest body outside of the sun in the solar system."

The innermost of the four major satellites of Jupiter - there are at least 16 - Io gets its high rate of volcanism from tidal interactions with Jupiter, which has the strongest magnetic field of all the planets. Over 100 active volcanoes have been identified on Io. Hotspots there have temperatures as high as 1,600 degrees Celsius. This is several hundred degrees hotter than terrestrial volcanoes like Kilauea in Hawaii, which has a temperature of about 1,000 Celsius (1,830 Fahrenheit).

Fegley and Schaefer found that silicon monoxide is the major silicon-bearing gas over the lavas.

"The interesting thing about this is that astronomers have observed silicon monoxide in other environments in interstellar space, most notably in the atmospheres of cool stars," said Fegley.

Astronomical observations of actively erupting volcanoes on Io may be able to detect the silicon monoxide gas in its atmosphere.

Fegley and Schaefer recommend an Io volcanic probe mission to directly measure the pressure, temperature and composition of gases of Pele, one of Io’s most active volcanoes. Such an endeavor is "feasible using present technology," Fegley said. "It would vastly expand our knowledge of the most volcanically active body in the solar system."

The volcanic probe mission would represent an advance in the effort to unveil some of Io’s mysteries, such as how the satellite, about the size of our own Moon, can maintain its high magma temperatures without being nearly totally molten, and how does Io maintain a strong enough lithosphere to support mountains higher than Mount Everest?

Tony Fitzpatrick | WUSTL
Further information:
http://news-info.wustl.edu/tips/page/normal/892.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte
17.08.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

nachricht Protecting the power grid: Advanced plasma switch for more efficient transmission
17.08.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>