It was thought that this extra heat was provided by Jupiter itself, but now there is a new hypothesis: they are warming to each other.
Jupiter is not acting as a sinister campfire for its nearby satellites, but due to its massive mass, what it is doing and pulling its moons – and it produces heat. This is an effect called tidal heating.
In this latest study, the new model looks at moon-to-moon temperature, suggesting that the gravitational gaps that occur with each other may be sufficient to produce higher tides than the planet’s orbit. Huh.
“It’s amazing because the moons are much smaller than Jupiter,” says planetary scientist Hamish Hay of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “You wouldn’t expect them to be able to create such a huge tide response.”
It is hoped that the new discovery will help astronomers learn more about the evolution of Jupiter’s lunar system overall. There are at least 79 Jovian moons that we know of so far. The biggest four are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
Scientists believe that these four big moons are toast enough to hide oceans of liquid water beneath their surface, while Io is warm enough to host more than 400 active volcanoes. So it is clear that something is preventing these moons from freezing in deep space.
Tidal heat works through what is called tidal resonance – these moons are essentially vibrated at certain frequencies, and this is a phenomenon that occurs everywhere on Earth, including water here.
“The resonant load creates more heating,” Hay says. “Basically, if you push an object or system and let go, it will wobble at its natural frequency.
“If you keep moving the system at the right frequency, those oscillations get bigger and bigger, like when you’re pushing the swing. If you push the swing at the right time, it’s more Goes, but get the timing wrong. Swing speed is reduced. ”
It is in the calculation of these natural frequencies that researchers make their discovery: Jupiter’s tidal resonances alone do not match the shape of the oceans occurring on these moons.
It is only when the gravitational forces from the Moon themselves are added so that the tidal forces match the current estimates of the Moon’s oceans. The team feels that the overall tidal temperature may be sufficient to melt ice and rock on the moon.
As always with such models, there is some informed inference – in terms of how stable the tidal resonance is, for example.
However, researchers say that they have now found a good foundation to explore further phenomena, and this same approach may help identify potential marine worlds in space.
“Ultimately, we want to understand the source of all this heat, which is its impact on the development and habitat of many worlds across and beyond the solar system,” says planetary scientist Antony Trinh of the University of Arizona.
The research has been published in Geophysical research paper.