Three volcanic eruptions rock Jupiter’s moon Io

infrared image of Jupiter's moon Io

Io bursts with two eruptions, one in the upper right and one in the lower middle of this near-infrared image of the moon. Io's lava lake Loki is the bright spot in the middle of the moon.

Katherine de Kleer/UC Berkeley/Gemini Observatory/AURA

Guest post by Christopher Crockett

Jupiter’s innermost moon, Io, had a rough summer last year. Over two weeks, the tiny moon blazed with three vigorous volcanic eruptions, according to three papers published in Icarus. The final blast was among the strongest ever seen on the tortured moon.

Io is the only place in the solar system, other than Earth, with active volcanoes. While eruptions are common, the new images suggest that powerful explosions may happen more often than previously thought. The volcanoes can teach astronomers not just about Io and its interaction with Jupiter, but also possibly about conditions on Venus and Earth when they were young.

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