Europa has volcanoes at the bottom of its underground ocean

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Europa has volcanoes at the bottom of its underground ocean, the study suggests. Jupiter’s Moon Europa is a saline ocean beneath a tectonically modified ice sheet that is in direct contact with its rocky interior. Such a marine environment makes the icy moon the primary goal of exploring the habitable world outside of Earth. The occurrence of magmatic activity at sea level is necessary to determine if it constitutes an environment conducive to life.

Europa has volcanoes at the bottom

A new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows how the icy moon may have enough internal heat to partially melt the rocky crust, a process that can feed volcanoes on the ocean floor. 3D modeling of how this internal heat is generated and transferred is by far the most detailed and comprehensive proof of the effect of this internal heat on the Moon.

The surface of Europa appears larger in this recently reprocessed color scene; The image scale is 1.6 km per pixel; Northern Europe is on the right. Volcanic activity on Jupiter’s moon Europa has been the subject of speculation for decades. The surface of Europa appears larger in this recently reprocessed color scene; The image scale is 1.6 km per pixel; Northern Europe is on the right.

By comparison, Jupiter’s moon is clearly volcanic. Hundreds of volcanoes erupt with lava fountains and emit volcanic gas and dust for up to 400 km (250 miles), activity that occurs on Jupiter’s moons in large part due to gravitational pull. But Europa is far from its host planet compared to Io, so planetary scientists have wondered if the effect would be the same under the icy surface.

The interior of Europa

New research models detail how the rocky part of Europa can flex and heat under the force of Jupiter’s gravity. It shows where the heat ends and how that rocky blanket melts, increasing the possibility of volcanoes on the ocean floor. “Our findings provide additional evidence that Europa’s underground ocean may be a suitable environment for life to emerge,” said Charles University researcher Dr. Mary Bohounkova.

The interior of Europa may include an iron core, which is surrounded by a rocky mantle in direct contact with an ocean beneath the icy crust; Buhonkova et al. He modeled how internal heat can fuel volcanoes at sea level. Using a three-dimensional numerical model, Drs. Bahunkova and her colleagues showed that volcanic activity can persist throughout much of Europe’s history, even as it progressively cools as the interior cools.

Long-lasting energy sources give potential life more opportunities to develop. They also predicted that volcanic activity is most likely to occur near the poles of Europa, the latitudes where the most heat is generated. Undersea volcanoes, if present, can power hydrothermal systems like those that fuel life at the bottom of Earth’s oceans.

On Earth, when seawater is exposed to hot magma, chemical energy is produced as a result of the interaction and it is the chemical energy from these hydrothermal systems, rather than sunlight, that helps support life in our own oceans. Volcanic activity on Europa’s seabed would be one way to maintain a potentially habitable environment in that moon’s ocean.

Europa is one of the rare planetary bodies that may have sustained volcanic activity for billions of years, and it is probably the only one beyond Earth that has large reservoirs of water and a long-term source of energy, said Dr. Buhonkova.

The hyperbolic metamaterial turns the traditional light microscope into a super-resolution imager. The speckle-mene technique, developed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, involves a specially designed material that shortens the wavelength of light as it illuminates the sample.

The hyperbolic metamaterial turns the traditional light microscope

Image of the macular matrix of Cos-7 cells: (a) diffraction limited image; Scale bar – 20 µm; (b) reconstructed speckled main image; (c, d) Enlarged view of the area of ​​the white box in (a); (e, f) Enlarged view of the area of ​​the white box in (b); Scale bar: 2 μm.

Conventional light microscopes have a resolution limit of 200 nanometers (nm), which means that objects close to this distance will not be seen as separate objects and although there are more powerful instruments, such as the electron microscope, that have the resolution to view subcellular structures, they cannot be used to image living cells because the samples must be placed inside a vacuum chamber.

The hyperbolic metamaterial

Professor Zhaowei Liu, a researcher at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering Program and the Memory and Memory Center, said: “The big challenge is to find a technology that has a very high resolution and is safe even to live. cells “. Recording research at the University of California, San Diego.

With speckle-key technology, a conventional light microscope can be used to image living subcellular structures with resolutions up to 40 nm. The technique involves a microscope slide coated with a type of heat shrinkable material called a hyperbolic metamaterial. It is made of alternating layers of nanometer-thin silver and silica glass.

As light passes through it, its wavelength shortens and scatters to produce a series of high-resolution, random speckle patterns. When a sample is applied to a slide, this series of speckled light patterns illuminates it in a variety of ways.

This creates a series of low-resolution images, which are captured and then stitched together using a reconstruction algorithm to form a high-resolution image. “The hyperbolic metamaterial converts low-resolution light into high-resolution light,” said Professor Liu.

“It is very simple and easy to use. Just place a sample on the material, then place everything under a normal microscope, without the need for sophisticated modifications.” Professor Liu and his colleagues used a commercial inverted microscope. They tested their technique with

They were able to image fine features, such as actin filaments in fluorescently labeled Cos-7 cells, features that are not readily apparent with a microscope alone. The technology allowed scientists to clearly distinguish small fluorescent beads and quantum dots that were 40 to 80 nm apart.

“Super-resolution technology has great potential for high-speed operation,” he said. Our goal is to incorporate high speed, super resolution, and low phototoxicity into a live cell imaging system. The team’s work was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Iron and nickel were detected in the atmosphere of comets in the solar system. Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have detected neutral atoms of two heavy metals, iron (Fe I) and nickel (Ni I), in many comet atmospheres in the solar system, including the Sun. Far from it. The findings appear in the journal Nature.

Iron and nickel were detected in the atmosphere

This image represents the detection of iron (Fe) and nickel (Ni) in the diffuse atmosphere of a comet, in which the light spectrum of C / 2016 R2 (PANSTARRS) is superimposed on a real image on top left. . Comets captured with the SPECULOOS telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory; Each white peak in the spectrum represents a different element, with iron and nickel indicated by blue and orange stripes, respectively.

The detection of iron (Fe) and nickel (Ni) in the hazy atmosphere of a comet is depicted in this image, with the light spectrum of C / 2016 R2 (PANSTARRS) superimposed on a real image in the upper left. Comets captured with the SPECULOOS telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory.

Each white peak in the spectrum represents a different element, with iron and nickel indicated by blue and orange stripes, respectively. Astronomers know that heavy metals are present in the dusty, rocky interiors of the comet. But since solid metals generally don’t sublimate at low temperatures, they weren’t expected to find them in the atmosphere of cold comets drifting away from the Sun.

It was a great surprise to find iron and nickel atoms in the atmosphere of all the comets that we have seen in the last two decades and about 20 of them, and even those that are far from the sun in cold space environments. Jean Manfried, an astronomer at the Star Institute of the University of Liège.

“Comets formed in the solar system very young, about 4.6 billion years ago, and they have not changed since then,” said Dr. Emanuel Zehin of the Star Institute of the University of Liège. In this sense, they are like fossils to astronomers. The astronomers analyzed the high-resolution ultraviolet-optical spectra of about 20 different comets located between 0.68 and 3.25 AU from the Sun.

Spectral data was collected by the Ultraviolet Visual Eshel Spectrograph (UVES) instrument on the 8m UT2 telescope of ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The researchers observed faint and unknown spectral lines in their UVES data and, upon closer inspection, noted that they indicated the presence of neutral iron and nickel atoms.

He estimates that the comet’s atmosphere contains only 1 gram of iron per 100 kg of water and roughly the same amount of nickel. Generally, there is 10 times more iron than nickel, and in those comet atmospheres we find the same amount for both elements, said Dr. from the Star Institute of the University of Liège. Damien Hatsemakers said.

Iron and nickel were detected

We concluded that these comets could come from a particular type of material on the surface of the nucleus, which would precipitate at low temperatures and release iron and nickel in roughly equal proportions. Another notable study published this week in the journal Nature reports that nickel vapor is also present in the arrival of interstellar comets.

Unexpected heavy metal vapors are found in the atmospheres of comets in our solar system and beyond. Astronomers know that the dusty, rocky interiors of comets contain heavy metals. But because solid metals generally do not sublimate, they go from solid immediately to gaseous at low temperatures.

Researchers did not expect heavy metals to be found in the atmosphere of cold comets drifting away from the Sun. Until now, nickel and iron fumes have been detected in comets that have been observed more than 300 million miles from the Sun. , more than three astronomical units, the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.

The STAR Institute team also discovered that the comet’s atmosphere contains roughly equal amounts of iron and nickel. Generally, materials in our solar system, such as the Sun and meteorites, contain about ten times the amount of iron as nickel.

Thus, this new discovery has implications for our understanding of the origins of comets and the early Solar System, although the team has yet to confirm its implications. “Comets formed in the very young Solar System about 4.6 billion years ago and have not changed since then. In some ways they are astronomical fossils,” said co-author Emmanuel Gehen.

Although the Belgian team had been examining these “fossilized” objects for almost twenty years using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the researchers had not yet observed the presence of nickel and iron in the atmosphere. “This discovery has drawn our attention for years,” Jihen said.

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