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Fraser
2007-Jul-17, 07:49 PM
It's only been a few months since the discovery of ice geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus, and now this dynamic process is turning up all over the Solar System. ...

Read the full blog entry (http://www.universetoday.com/2007/07/17/plutos-moon-charon-has-geysers-too/)

m1omg
2007-Jul-17, 09:01 PM
:surprised
The John Whatmough's predictions come true...
http://www.extrasolar.net/planettour.asp?StarCatId=normal&PlanetId=46

ColonyWorlds
2007-Jul-17, 11:46 PM
Perhaps these frozen balls of ice are not so boring after all!

I wonder whether or not we will find the ices to be mainly a mixture of methane (as that would motivate some to colonize that distant dwarf system).

AstroTodd
2007-Jul-17, 11:52 PM
So many questions to ask about a small snow ball. I can't wait til' New Horizons gets there.

BigDon
2007-Jul-18, 03:08 AM
How does one tell the difference between primordial ice and more recent ice? Especially from billions of miles away? I'm not suggesting it can't be done, just I haven't got a clue as to how.

01101001
2007-Jul-18, 04:26 AM
How does one tell the difference between primordial ice and more recent ice?

Like Crystalline water ice on the Kuiper belt object (50000) Quaoar (http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~jewitt/papers/2004/JL2004.pdf)


Unfortunately, most Kuiper belt objects are too faint for meaningful compositional study, evenwith the largest available telescopes.Water ice has been reported in a handful of objects, but most appear spectrally featureless. Here we report near-infrared observations of the large Kuiper belt object (50000) Quaoar, which reveal the presence of crystalline water ice and ammonia hydrate. Crystallinity indicates that the ice has been heated to at least 110 K. Both ammonia hydrate and crystalline water ice should be destroyed by energetic particle irradiation on a timescale of about 107 yr. We conclude that Quaoar has been recently resurfaced, either by impact exposure of previously buried (shielded) ices or by cryovolcanic outgassing, or by a combination of these processes.

Leafguy
2007-Jul-18, 04:29 AM
Couldn't there be some other explanation for this. Given out current technology where we can hardly even get a photograph of Pluto, one would think that this type of finding is hard to believe. Could Charon and Pluto in fact have an atmosphere that freezes and then evaporates during the summer and winter parts of its orbit that would much resemble the way the carbon does in Mar's atmosphere into ice sheets? Im not saying its not possible as Enceladus, Tethys and Dione have all been proven to be geolocically active, but having a satellite that far away that we can't even measure accurately leaves me skeptical at best.

BigDon
2007-Jul-18, 07:14 AM
Thanks 011!

Palomar
2007-Jul-18, 12:08 PM
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070717_charon_geysers.html


Slushy geysers on Pluto's moon Charon apparently coat the tiny world in ice crystals, making it something like the outer solar system's equivalent of an ice machine.

A very, very slow ice machine.

Water is likely trickling out at a glacial pace, researchers say, repaving Charon in a thin layer of 1-millimeter deep ice every 100,000 years.


astronomers learned of the ice deposits after discovering the spectral fingerprints of ammonia hydrates and water crystals in light coming from the moon. The findings suggest that ammonia-laced liquid water from deep inside Charon is seeping out through cracks onto the moon's frigid surface...

The researchers ruled out other possible mechanisms for the ice, and concluded it must be due to cryovolcanism-the eruption of liquids and from inside the moon.



"That implies that Charon's interior possesses liquid water."


heat from radioactive materials in Charon's interior might be creating a pool of melted water beneath the moon's surface that is mixed with ammonia. "As some of the subsurface water cools and approaches the freezing point, it expands into the cracks in the ice shell above it," Cook explained.

When the liquid water reaches the surface, it immediately freezes and "snows" back down onto the moon's surface, creating bright ice patches that are visible in the infrared.

3488
2007-Jul-18, 06:12 PM
This is absolutely amazing.

The number of active worlds in the solar system is increasing quickly.

With Charon, it does seem to be more problematic. There is no large object to cause tidal heating.

However, as mentioned in the article, radioactive elements appear to be involved.

I wonder if fossilized residual heat from a large impact could have triggered renewed cryovolanism.

Attached image below is a map of Charon, thich clearly shows a bright circular feature.

Andrew Brown.

01101001
2007-Jul-18, 06:30 PM
It's odd that the cited article suggests looking at Quaoar for crystalline ice.


The next step will be to examine other Kuiper Belt objects, like Quaoar and Orcus - both are larger than 500 km (310 miles) across.

(Edit: Oh. The article actually says:

The next step is to get better spectra of other Kuiper Belt Objects such as Quaoar and Orcus. “Those larger than 500 kilometers across show us crystalline water ice,” Cook said. “But, there’s a whole set of intermediate-sized objects, between 200 and 500 kilometers across that we want to sample to test our ideas. As I think about at these other KBOs, I want to look for the ammonia hydrate. I think it has to be out there.”
That jibes better.)

Hasn't that been known for a while? Or, do they imply a better examination?

Like in THE SURFACE OF 2003 EL61 IN THE NEAR-INFRARED (http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~mbrown/papers/ps/santaspec.pdf), Trujillo, Brown et al (PDF):


We report the detection of crystalline water ice on the surface of 2003 EL61. [...] Like the surfaces of many outer solar system bodies, the surface of 2003 EL61 is rich in crystalline water ice, which is energetically less favored than amorphous water ice at low temperatures, suggesting that resurfacing processes may be taking place.
[...]
The objects (50000) Quaoar and (90482) Orcus are the only KBOs so far to show signs of crystalline water ice [...] This finding is significant in that crystalline water ice is unstable on 10 Myr timescales. However, crystalline water ice has been seen on many other outer solar system bodies, such as Charon and the giant planet moons, which argues for a common resurfacing process throughout the solar system.

trinitree88
2007-Jul-18, 06:37 PM
And of course, the Fe-60 sediments in marine deposits on Earth indicate the passage of a supernova ejecta cloud in the geologic past through the solar system, intruding at least as deep against the somewhat protection of the solar wind, as Earth. Type 2's may make as much as several solar masses of water (2-3 million times the mass of the Earth)Woosley, Stan...and if a passing Centaurus-Sco star went off fairly close, raining on Mars, Jovian satellites, Saturnian satellites, and the external parts of the solar system is a given, without geysers. Pete.

EDG
2007-Jul-18, 06:52 PM
With Charon, it does seem to be more problematic. There is no large object to cause tidal heating.

...apart from the large one that it's orbiting at a relatively close distance? Even if no tidal flexing is ongoing (which is likely given that the system is about as tidelocked as it can get), the interior could still be warm from when it was going on. And maybe the small tugs from Nix and Hydra add to it a bit.

BigDon
2007-Jul-18, 08:50 PM
On Earth water + ammonia + warmth is a good starting point for life. We have autotrophic bacteria that "breathe" ammonia. As a matter of fact your home aquarium will not support fish without a large population of these creatures.

In the aquarium fish excrete ammonia which is very toxic to fish, (Not urea, which is a product of higher animals. That's ammonia with a protien molecule hooked to it so your kidneys can remove it more efficiently from your blood stream)

If your tank has been properly set up and "cycled" or "seasoned" one set of bacteria convert the ammonia to ammonium nitrite (still toxic) which is then converted another set to ammonium nitrate (Not so toxic). THEN if you want to take it a step further, and if you know what your doing, you set up an anarobic location either with a piece of porous ceramic or a plenum under the gravel and a third set of bacteria break the oxygen loose from the ammonium nitrate and convert it to nitrogen gas.

Well, that's on Earth. Does Charon show any free nitrogen?

George
2007-Jul-19, 05:54 PM
And of course, the Fe-60 sediments in marine deposits on Earth indicate the passage of a supernova ejecta cloud in the geologic past through the solar system, intruding at least as deep against the somewhat protection of the solar wind, as Earth. Type 2's may make as much as several solar masses of water (2-3 million times the mass of the Earth)Woosley, Stan...and if a passing Centaurus-Sco star went off fairly close, raining on Mars, Jovian satellites, Saturnian satellites, and the external parts of the solar system is a given, without geysers. Pete. I am curious what the supernova ejecta distribution might be for a solar system. Would a larger percentage of the ejecta reach the inner region, or would a majority of the mass impact the initial cloud and hang-out in the outer regions?

Perhaps these geysers can spit at escape velocities. Anyone else hope to see a blue ring around this "Poor Pluto" binary? :)

trinitree88
2007-Jul-19, 11:20 PM
I am curious what the supernova ejecta distribution might be for a solar system. Would a larger percentage of the ejecta reach the inner region, or would a majority of the mass impact the initial cloud and hang-out in the outer regions?

Perhaps these geysers can spit at escape velocities. Anyone else hope to see a blue ring around this "Poor Pluto" binary? :)

George. Good question. Not a simple answer.
1. Proximity to a supernova favors higher incoming velcities. More distant, lower velocities.
2. Polar orientation of supernova towards us, higher velocities. Equatorial orientation lower velocities.
3. The sun's (or any other solar system's central star's...) variable sunspot activity vs solar wind strength should also contribute to the ejecta's reach inwards.
4. Kinetic energy losses to the intervening Local Bubble ISM can attenuate effects, too. So how recently it was swept clean is an effect.
Pete.

3488
2007-Jul-20, 12:21 PM
This is partly the reason why we must return to the Moon, or an outer solar system body, preferably one with NO geological activity.

The Lunar regolith ot perhaps an outer Uranus, Neptune, Pluto moon or KBO 'regolith' holds records of solar activity & a record of the environment our solar system has experienced during the course of each 225 million year long Cosmic Year (the time it takes for our Sun to orbit the galactic centre).

If there are increased radioactive materials ejected from long gone passing supernovae, the evidence should be there.

Regarding Charon, I would now suggest that perhaps, further more intense observations be made with the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, & the largest ground based with adaptive optics.

Regarding rings around Pluto. Interesting. I had heard that Nis & Hydra may create some as dust & ice are knocked off them.

Perhaps Charon is creating a ring a bit like Saturn's E Ring?????

Maybe Dysnomia is creating a ring around Eris, with dust & ice knocked off?

I know wild speculation, but who knows?

Andrew Brown.

John Mendenhall
2007-Jul-20, 02:06 PM
:surprised
The John Whatmough's predictions come true...
http://www.extrasolar.net/planettour.asp?StarCatId=normal&PlanetId=46

A number of people, including yours truly, independently made this call for Charon.

The John above, however, is not me.

m1omg
2007-Jul-20, 02:12 PM
A number of people, including yours truly, independently made this call for Charon.

The John above, however, is not me.

I know :(.