Saturday, January 16, 2016
τwo potential cryovolcanoes spotted on the surface of Pluto NASA
A cryovolcano (colloquially known as an ice volcano) is, literally, an icy volcano. Cryovolcanoes form on icy moons, and possibly on other low-temperature astronomical objects (e.g., Kuiper belt objects). Rather than molten rock, these volcanoes erupt volatiles such as water, ammonia or methane
Collectively referred to as cryomagma or ice-volcanic melt, these substances are usually liquids and form plumes, but can also be in vapour form. After eruption, cryomagma condenses to a solid form when exposed to the very low surrounding temperature.
The energy required to melt ices and produce cryovolcanoes usually comes from tidal friction. It has also been suggested that translucent deposits of frozen materials could create a sub-surface greenhouse effect that would accumulate the required heat.
Some hypothesize that the Kuiper belt object Quaoar exhibited cryovolcanism in the past. Radioactive decay could also provide the energy necessary for such activity. Cryovolcanoes can emit water mixed with ammonia. Such a mixture would melt at -95¡C, creating an extremely cold liquid that would flow out of the volcano.