Evidence of hydrothermal vents found under the ice of Enceladus
(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have noticed the release of matter from under the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. This led them to a shocking theory.
According to a new analytical model, the internal heating of Enceladus’s core creates ocean currents that carry silica particles.
These particles are then ejected from deep sea hydrothermal vents, which also release heat into the surrounding waters.
This is a tantalizing discovery that shows the real possibility of life deep below the surface of the ocean on an alien world.
Life under the ice of Enceladus
Enceladus is a real miracle. The moon is covered in a thick ice shell, which averages 18 to 22 kilometers thick. But its orbit around Saturn is not perfectly round, but elliptical.
This means that its distance from the planet changes, as does the force of gravity between the two bodies. This variable gravity stretches and compresses Enceladus, heating up its core.
Thus, under the ice shell is a huge liquid ocean with a depth of more than 10 kilometers, and the heat emanating from the core protects the water from freezing.
It also raises the possibility of hydrothermal vents, cracks in the seafloor through which heat escapes from the Moon‘s interior.
Previous studies have suggested that heat from the interior of Enceladus should generate vertical convection currents in the ocean similar to those seen on Earth.
Now a team of planetary scientists led by UCLA’s Ashley Schoenfeld has created a model that includes these currents to try to understand the transport of silica on Enceladus.
“Our study shows that these currents are strong enough to lift materials from the seafloor and carry them into the ice sheet that separates the ocean from the vacuum of space.
The tiger-stripe rifts that cut through the ice shell could serve as direct conduits for the ejection of captured materials into space.
Enceladus gives us excellent samples of what is hidden deep below its surface, ”says Ashley Schoenfeld, one of the authors of the study, from the University of California at Los Angeles.
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