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Mystery 'magic island' spotted on Titan

Posted on Monday, 23 June, 2014 | Comment icon 29 comments

Close up photograph of Ligeia Mare. Image Credit: NASA
A strange object in one of Titan's largest seas has been mysteriously appearing and disappearing.
Scientists were left perplexed when the peculiar 'island', which was nowhere to be seen on images taken in 2013 of Titan's second-largest sea Ligeia Mare, seemed to have appeared out of nowhere in later photographs only to disappear again a short time later.

Unlike the oceans here on Earth the seas of Titan, being composed of liquid hydrocarbons, are believed to be extremely calm with very little movement. To have a whole island appear and disappear so quickly suggests that something more must be going on.

"This discovery tells us that the liquids in Titan's northern hemisphere are not simply stagnant and unchanging, but rather that changes do occur," said planetary scientist Jason Hofgartner. "We don't know precisely what caused this to appear, but we'd like to study it further."

Source: Belfast Telegraph | Comments (29)

Tags: Titan, Saturn

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #20 Posted by keithisco on 24 June, 2014, 20:13
Surely, there has got to be a natural ebb and flow of these hydrocarbon lakes? The lakes reduce in volume (due to external forcing) so exposing rock, then increase in volume (when the natural forcing is not apparent)and submerge these rocky outcrops again. This is not Rocket Science people, it just strikes me as a natural occurrence.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Merc14 on 24 June, 2014, 20:15
Space.com has a before and after montage they do and that is exactly what it looks like.
Comment icon #22 Posted by cyclopes500 on 24 June, 2014, 21:49
Could it be a solid hydrocarbon iceberg like thing? Something like an iceberg called a Growler? Something flat virtually touching the water that very low waves could wash over? Something equivalent to fat or very thick grease floating in a chip pan? If so I was wondering if it could be created by a deep gas pocket rising to the surface. As it does so the outside pressure on the bubble drops allowing it to expand, and as it expands it gets colder. The result is a shell forming around the bubble.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Merc14 on 25 June, 2014, 2:29
Ir seemed like the surrounding shoreline was exposed as well http://www.space.com/26325-cassini-titan-waves-magic-island.html I like the iceberg thing though, but how would a Liquid ethyl berg float in a liquid ethyl lake and is that even possible? Too cold I think
Comment icon #24 Posted by qxcontinuum on 25 June, 2014, 4:39
How about a Maree cycle. I mean Saturn is huge. I am sure it has a magnetic influence over everything that is liquid on Titan?
Comment icon #25 Posted by SaraT on 25 June, 2014, 8:08
Brilliant! Mystery Magic Island sounds like a wonderful place for a holiday! :)
Comment icon #26 Posted by cyclopes500 on 26 June, 2014, 20:58
To MERCI14 My type of Liquid ethyl berg has methane gas bubbles trapped in it. I was thinking of lots of bubbles rising at the same time in a group, ice forms on each of them and the ice causes them to stick together. A bit like expanded polystyrene. However if I remember right "Water" icebergs are compacted snow at the end of a glacier that's reached the sea and broken off. In the snow is air that's trapped. My idea is the same, a frozen mass filled with gas, but i think water isn't like other liquids, its melting point is 0c, but at 4c it is at its most densest form and... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by Merc14 on 26 June, 2014, 22:35
Good luck with the experiment but it looked like the shorelines in the surrounding bay were more exposed as well. Then again, that could be a trick of the lighting
Comment icon #28 Posted by Beacon_Field on 1 July, 2014, 11:47
I agree with ***SNIP*** SaraT. Sounds awesome. I'd holiday there.
Comment icon #29 Posted by DieChecker on 1 July, 2014, 19:30
It was DisneyLand Titan.... It opened and closed within a week.

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