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Europa spouting off again

Hubble images of plumes on Jupiter’s icy moon revive talk of hidden ocean

By
5:18pm, September 26, 2016
illustration of plumes from Europa

COME INTO VIEW  Plumes erupting from Europa (illustrated) stand out against light from Jupiter in observations from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Jupiter’s moon Europa might once again be venting water into space, further supporting the idea that an ocean hides beneath its thick shell of ice, researchers reported September 26 at a news conference. 

Plumes erupting from the moon’s surface, silhouetted against background light from Jupiter, appear in several images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in early 2014. The geysers — presumably of water vapor or ice particles — showed up in the same location as an eruption captured by Hubble in 2012 (SN: 1/25/14, p. 6). The eruptions also appear to be intermittent, appearing in only three out of 10 images. Material hovering over the moon’s southern hemisphere and absorbing ultraviolet light coming from Jupiter made the plumes visible.

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