APR 23, 2016 2:03 PM PDT

Is Europa Hotter Than Astronomers Originally Thought?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Is Jupiter’s smallest moon, Europa, hotter than astronomers originally predicted?
 

Euopia might be hotter than originally thought, but why?


Although the moon is far from the Sun, it does have unique qualities to it that researchers from Brown and Columbia Universities believe could be the work of underlying heat sources.
 
For one, it’s believed that the moon has a solid ice surface, and underneath the surface is a vast ocean. This means that as it orbits its host planet, gravitational forces cause the icy surface to move around as it floats over the underlying water.
 
Because it’s such a massive object, it’s generating friction as the ice moves across the surface of the ocean and rubs up against other tectonic pieces of the moon’s surface, which is believed to be one of the main heat sources that could have generated such a vast under-surface ocean in a process known as tidal dissipation.
 
Columbia University’s Christine McCarthy, the co-author of the study, explains tidal dissipation as similar to the thermal effects you’d feel from repeatedly bending a metal coat hanger:
 
“If you bend it back and forth, you can feel it making heat at the junction,” she said. “The way it does that is that internal defects within that metal are rubbing past each other, and it’s a similar process to how energy would be dissipated in ice.”
 
The theory and findings of this research are published in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters and detail that there must be more thermal forces at work than only the Sun to produce the heat necessary to melt ice at that distance from our star.
 
As as the surface moves, the heat continually melts the inner layers of the ice, as new layers are formed from the colder exterior. Using these two variables, researchers are trying to estimate just how thick the ice layer might be on Europa.
 
This research could help us to better understand spatial bodies that are further away from the Sun, as their existence is a big mystery because of how far away they are and how difficult it is to see them up close.

Source: Brown University

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 19, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Engineer Human Cartilage in Space
JUL 19, 2020
Scientists Engineer Human Cartilage in Space
Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Kononenko, has successfully carried out an experiment to engineer human cartilage in microgravit ...
AUG 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Mars Was Shaped by Ice Sheets - not Rivers
AUG 05, 2020
Mars Was Shaped by Ice Sheets - not Rivers
Physicists have found that in the distant past, Mars may not have been warm enough to carry vast oceans. Instead, in new ...
AUG 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Are There More Rogue Planets than Stars?
AUG 22, 2020
Are There More Rogue Planets than Stars?
Researchers from Ohio State University have theorized that there may be more rogue planets (planets that don't orbit ...
AUG 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Space Rock May Contain Building Blocks for DNA
AUG 27, 2020
Space Rock May Contain Building Blocks for DNA
Researchers say that a space rock that landed in Costa Rica on April 23rd, 2019, came from an asteroid that exists as a ...
SEP 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
New Drug May Allow Astronauts to Spend Years in Space
SEP 08, 2020
New Drug May Allow Astronauts to Spend Years in Space
Without gravity from Earth, muscles and bones tend to weaken quickly. To combat this, astronauts usually need to spend t ...
SEP 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Discover Intergalactic Origins of Gold
SEP 18, 2020
Scientists Discover Intergalactic Origins of Gold
Back in 2017, scientists theorized that elements heavier than iron- such as gold- came to be following a collision betwe ...
Loading Comments...