Astronomers have spotted a massive explosion on the surface of Jupiter's moon Io.
One of the most fascinating moons in our solar system, other than Earth’s Moon, is Io. It is one of Jupiter’s most intriguing moons. It is the only known volcanically active moon in the solar system, and it has researchers intrigued. Io is the fourth-largest moon in the solar system. It has the highest density of ANY moon we know of. Additionally, it is also peculiar because Io happens to have the strongest surface gravity of all the moons in the solar system. Still, it also has the least amount of water of any object in our solar system. But what makes it even more peculiar is that IO is the most geologically active moon in the solar system.
Explosion on Io
Using the IoIO (Input/Output) Observatory from the Planetary Institute of Science, researchers discovered a massive explosion on the surface of the Jovian Moon. While observations of the moon have revealed that explosions are common on its surface, in 2022, the largest ever recorded was captured by experts. According to astronomers, the explosion was caused by a never-before-seen volcanic eruption, and it could help astronomers discover more about Io’s volcanic nature. This explosion was noticed thanks to an increased amount of sodium and ionized sulfur that was visible between Jupiter and the moon. The increase was registered in September of 2022 and lasted all the way until December 2022. This, according to experts, is a clear tell-tale sign of increased volcanic activity.
A closer look
NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been studying the Jovian system, made a close approach to Io in December 2022. Scientists are now waiting for data that might reveal more insight into the volcanic eruption on Io. Juno is expected to perform a total of 8 flybys around Io in the next year and a half. One of them will take the spacecraft around 1,500 kilometers of its surface. This close flyby could provide unprecedented data.
*The featured image shows a plume of a volcanic eruption in 2007, photographed by New Horizons.