Images: 10 incredible volcanoes in our solar system

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volcano model

(Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASI / USGS / University of Arizona)

Doom Mons, Titan

The Doom Monster, named after Mount Doom from The Lord of the Rings, is the highest mountain range in the southern hemisphere on the moon Titan. It is believed to have grown as a result of cryovolcanism – the constant seepage of molten water and methane ice from cracks in the crust. Mohini Fluctus, a bright lobed stream at least 124 miles (200 kilometers) long, appears to emerge from the mountain and extend northeast.

Like everywhere else on Titan’s surface, Doom Mons is constantly bombarded by various elements of the moon’s orange atmosphere, including wind, rain and snow particles composed of liquid methane and ethane, as well as hydrocarbon smog and haze. This bombardment means that the structure of the volcano is constantly changing, while wind erosion can also play a role in limiting the height of its peak.

Titan orbits close to Saturn, and the tidal forces generated can probably explain the internal heat that powers Doom Mons. Some scientists have expressed bewilderment as to why we do not see more active cryovolcanism on the surface of Titan.

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Io surface

(Image courtesy of NASA / JPL)

Loki, Io

Before the launch of the Voyager mission in the 1970s, few expected to find active volcanism in the freezing parts of the solar system inhabited by gas giants. The only exception was the Stan Peel group of planetary scientists at the University of California. In a prophetic article by Peele three months before the ship arrived at Jupiter, it was predicted that the combined orbital forces of the gas giant and its other satellites could sufficiently squeeze tiny Io, melting its interior.

However, even Peel could not imagine what Voyager saw as it flew by. And about It is home to over 400 active volcanoes, making it the most dangerous geological world in the solar system. Its dynamic surface is fueled by an unimaginable gravitational pull and squeeze, which creates a rocky tidal bulge over 33 feet (10 meters) in height, constantly moving around the moon.

Loki is the largest of Io’s volcanoes, erupting a plume. It is a 125 miles (200 kilometers) wide volcanic lake that erupts at regular intervals – roughly every 540 Earth days. These eruptions release jets 250 miles (400 kilometers) high, which widely spread sulfur and sulfur dioxide over vast areas of the surface.

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(Image courtesy of NASA / Lunar Orbiter 2 / Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter)

Marius Hills, moon

Marius Hills is the largest volcanic dome field on the Moon, containing numerous domes up to 1,640 feet (500 m) high. The region is also home to the Marius Hills Hole, a hole in the lunar surface several hundred feet wide through which a 260-foot (80 meters) window opens into what scientists believe is ancient. lunar lava tube… Some engineers even viewed the hole’s natural defenses as a site for a future lunar base.

Until astronauts returned the moonstone to Earth for analysis, there was debate over whether our celestial satellite was ever a volcanic world. It was only after analysis of the lunar rocks that it was confirmed that the large spots of the dark mare were not impact craters, as some had suggested, but ancient lava flows.

Although the volcanism that gave rise to the Marius Hills has long since disappeared, there are places on the lunar surface where volcanism may have occurred in the past several hundred million years, according to data THE SCIENCE… And if this can be proved, it is possible that in the near future we will see the eruption of the moon again.

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space mountain

(Image courtesy of NASA)

Olympus Mons, Mars

The largest volcano in the solar system, the Martian volcano Olympus, extends over an area the size of Arizona. It is so large that if someone drops you into the summit caldera crater, you will not see the edge of the crater because it will lie beyond the horizon. Its weight flexes the Martian lithosphere, which bends beneath it like a bowling ball on a trampoline, according to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

The shield volcano Olympus Mons is formed by pulses of magma that rise in a column known as a plume. At Olympus Mons, this can extend all the way to the edge of the mantle core, thousands of miles below. If Mars had plate tectonics like Earth, successive impulses from such a plume would create island chains like Hawaii as the plate moves along this superheated column. However, on Mars, as well as on Venus and Mercury, there is no such process. As a result, over billions of years, the Olympus Mons plume created relatively weak lava flows from one location, each pouring over the latter, gradually increasing its now extensive, gentle topography.

The youngest lava flows on the northwestern slope of Mount Olympus are only 2 million years old. From a geological point of view, they appeared quite recently, which suggests that the mountain may still be active, however, in a very calm and episodic manner.

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(Image courtesy of NASA / JPL)

Maat Mons, Venus

The tallest volcano on the surface of Venus, Maat Mons, did not live up to scientists’ expectations. It was believed that surface pressure on Venus would prevent the formation of such steep slopes. However, recent models suggest that the viscous Venusian lava could explain Maat Mons and other cone-shaped formations. Surface pressure can even promote their formation, preventing the ejected material from spreading too far from the vent.

Maat Mons and other similar Venusian volcanoes have certainly left their mark on the planet’s surface, which is only 750 million years old as a result of recent extensive lava flows. And this process of surface renewal may well continue to this day.

In the 80s of the last century Pioneer venus The project revealed significant differences in the concentrations of common volcanic gases such as sulfur dioxide and methane in the atmosphere of Venus, according to data European Space Agency… One explanation was recent volcanic gas injection volcanoes such as Maat Mons, according to an article published in Nature Geoscience.

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Surface of the moon

(Image courtesy of NASA / JPL-Caltech / SETI Institute)

Cryogizers of Europe

Volcanism in the outer solar system can take on strange forms that are not even found in the coldest latitudes of the Earth. In 2012 Hubble Space Telescope discovered jets of water vapor from the south pole of Jupiter’s moon Europa. They were later associated with circular domes on the surface, which were believed to have been erupted by cryogisers. Hubble imagery suggests the plume could be 124 miles (200 kilometers) high.

Europe has long fascinated scientists with predictions about the subsurface ocean. Flyby sampling these volcanic plumes could help astronomers search for life in this ice-covered ocean without having to drill through the icy surface. However, this window to the underground ocean may be less reliable if recent studies suggest that plumes may come from melt water in the crust of Europe turns out to be true.

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moon surface

(Image courtesy of NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute)

Tiger stripes, Enceladus

Few volcanic worlds have caused such shock, excitement and awe as Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus. In March 2006, the Cassini spacecraft photographed large ice jets emanating from the Moon’s “tiger stripes” – a series of extensive cracks that dominate the region of its south pole. An extensive chain of stripes “Old FaithfulGeysers of the “constantly erupting” type, sending massive amounts of watery material into orbit around the gas giant Moon. As a result Ring of saturn

Subsequently, “Cassini” flew through the eruption plume and determined the composition of water ice with traces of carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane and other complex hydrocarbons. These contaminants lower the melting point of Enceladus’ ice crust, supporting the formation of cryomagmas.

The presence of complex hydrocarbons in the erupted vapors indicates an underground ocean and possibly the type of hydrothermal chemistry that sustains the rich ecosystems at the bottom of the Earth’s ocean.

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volcano and snow

(Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Mount Etna, Earth

One of the most famous and active classical conical volcanoes on Earth, Italy. Mount Etna is evidence of our planet’s seemingly unique plate tectonics system. This process is fueled by internal radioactive elements, which on the surface cause constant pushing and separation of the patchwork of oceanic and continental plates.

It is at the top of one of these converging plate boundaries that Etna sits, spewing molten rock, molten far below by the subduction of the water-rich African Plate beneath the Eurasian plate. The introduction of water and other gassing volatiles into the interior creates more viscous magmas, which leads to explosive volcanism, which is found only on Earth.

Plate tectonics is the fundamental mechanism of our planet, recycling vital minerals between the surface and the interior. By burying excess carbon, it also acts as a thermostat, controlling our climatic fluctuations. The reasons why the Earth has plate tectonics, while other worlds of the solar system do not, is one of the main questions of planetary science. The answer may help us understand how common terrestrial conditions are among stars.

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mountain rock

(Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA)

Ahuna Mons, Ceres

Volcanism can even be found in the asteroid belt in our solar system. And further Ceres, the largest object in orbit between Mars and Jupiter, it takes on a strange shape.

In 2015, amid crater-covered but relatively flat terrain, NASA Dawn the spacecraft photographed Ahuna Mons, a flat-topped rectangular mountain 10.5 miles (17 km) long. In the absence of signs of plate tectonics on Ceres, the origin of Ahun Mons was associated with upwelling under the earth’s crust – perhaps the closest example of cryovolcanism in the solar system.

However, the lavas were not outpourings of nearly pure water found on the surfaces of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The viscous relaxation and mineralogy of the dome suggest that these magmas contain a lot of suspended rock material, and Akhuna Mons was named mud volcano… Simulations predict that it feeds on a plume extending from the mantle to the dome above it, raising the likelihood that Ceres’s mantle is still churning, pushing material into Ahuna Mons and causing it to grow.

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stones on the surface

(Image courtesy of NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI)

Wright Mons, Pluto

While the moons of Saturn and Jupiter disproved expectations that the outer solar system could provide little prey for volcano hunters, few hoped to discover new volcanic riches when NASA New Horizons arrived at Pluto in 2015. However, geology found a way out even in the cold backwaters of the Kuiper belt.

The telltale sign came from surprisingly smooth terrain. Scientists were able to identify only one impact crater on Wright Mons itself, indicating that the surface (as well as some of the crust below it) was relatively recent. This, in turn, may indicate that Wright Mons was volcanically active at the end of Pluto’s history. Cryolavas are composed of water, ammonia and a colored component, which is considered a complex organic matter. The presence of ammonia seems to be the key to unlocking the mystery, as it can act as an antifreeze to melt frozen ice, and its susceptibility to destruction by ultraviolet light supports the idea of ​​recent volcanic activity.

As with Europa and Enceladus, Pluto’s volcanism presents a tempting window into what may be an ammonia-rich aquatic ocean beneath the ice crust.

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