Io’s Magma Ocean

Jupiter’s moon Io is the most volcanically active world in our solar system. The energy that drives its geological activity comes from tidal forces the moon experiences from Jupiter and from other Jovian moons. These forces flex the moon and heat its interior via friction. Previous models of Io’s tidal heating assumed a solid body, but their results predicted volcanoes in locations that did not match observations of the moon. A new study suggests that the missing piece of the puzzle is a subsurface ocean of magma. Highly viscous liquids like magma also generate heat when deformed by tidal forces, and applying this model to Io allowed scientists to better match the volcano distribution actually seen on the world. For more, check out NASA’s article. (Image credit: NASA; via Gizmodo; submitted by jshoer)

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