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Space & Astronomy

Massive waves of molten rock spotted on Io

By T.K. Randall
May 11, 2017 · Comment icon 1 comment

Io's surface is notoriously inhospitable. Image Credit: NASA
Scientists have revealed the extent of the volcanic activity that is occurring on Jupiter's moon Io.
The fourth-largest moon in the Jovian system, Io is the most volcanically active body in the entire solar system - a world dominated by molten rock, gaseous plumes and active volcanoes.

Now new observations of Io using the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona have revealed two huge lava waves rolling around a vast volcanic crater covering an area exceeding 8,300 square miles.
Spotting the waves was no easy task, especially given the distance. To find them, astronomers took advantage of a rare orbital alignment which saw Io's neighboring moon Europa move in front of it.

By taking regular snapshots of Io, the researchers were able to build up a picture of how much infrared light was coming from each region of the crater.

"The temperature tells us how recently the magma has been exposed," said Katherine de Kleer, a planetary scientist from the University of California, Berkeley.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (1)




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