Large volcanic eruption detected on Jupiter’s moon Io

PSI's I/O Observatory detects a large volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon Io

IoIO image of the sodium Jovian nebula in the explosion Credit: Jeff Morgenthaler, PSI.

A large volcanic eruption on Jupiter’s moon Io was detected by Jeff Morgenthaler of the Planetary Science Institute using PSI’s Io Input/Output (IoIO) Observatory.

PSI’s chief scientist is using Morgenthaler IoIO, located near Benson, Arizona, for monitoring volcanic activity on Io since 2017. The Notes It shows some kind of eruption almost every year, but the largest was seen so far in the fall of 2022.

Io is the innermost of Jupiter’s four large moons and is the most volcanic body in the solar system thanks to the tidal pressures it feels from Jupiter and two of its other large moons, Europa and Ganymede.

IoIO uses coronagraphic technology that dims light from Jupiter to enable imaging of faint gases near the very bright planet. the radiance of two of these gases, sodium and ionized matchsticks, began between July and September 2022 and lasted until December 2022. Oddly enough, ionized sulfur, which forms a doughnut-like structure surrounding Jupiter called an Io plasma torus, was not nearly as bright in this outburst as we saw earlier. “This might tell us something about the composition of the volcanic activity that caused the eruption or it might tell us that the torus is more efficient at ridding itself of material when more material is thrown into it,” Morgenthaler said.

Credit: Planetary Science Institute

notes to her Deep effects for NASA’s Juno mission, which has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016. Juno flew close to Europa during the explosion and is gradually approaching Io for a close flyby in December 2023. Many of Juno’s instruments are sensitive to changes in the plasma environment around Jupiter and Io that can It can be directly traced back to the type of volcanic activity observed by the IoIO. “Juno’s measurements may be able to tell us whether this eruption had a different composition than its predecessors,” Morgenthaler said.

PSI's I/O Observatory detects a large volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon Io

Chronological history of the brightening of the sodium Jovian Nebula at three different distances from Jupiter (top) and Io’s plasma ring (bottom), showing several modest explosions and one large explosion in 2022. Credit: Jeff Morgenthaler, PSI.

“One of the exciting things about these observations is that they can be reproduced by any junior college or aspiring amateur astronomer,” Morgenthaler said. “Almost all of the parts used to build the IoIO are available at a camera store or telescope store.”

Having one or more copies of IoIO operating elsewhere would be very helpful in avoiding weather gaps and could provide more time coverage each night for the highly dynamic Io plasma ring and Jupiter’s sodium nebula. “It would be great to see another IoIO come on line before Juno reaches Jupiter this December,” Morgenthaler said.

PSI's I/O Observatory detects a large volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon Io

An IoIO timeline of individual ionized sulfur in an Io plasma torus showing how the structure rotates with Jupiter’s strong magnetic field which, like Earth’s, is not perfectly aligned with the planet’s rotation axis. Credit: Jeff Morgenthaler, PSI.

In addition to monitoring the Sodium Jovian Nebula, IoIO also monitors Mercury’s sodium tail, bright comets, and transits. extrasolar planets.

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