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ALMA Detects Volcanic Gases in Atmosphere of Io

Using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers from India have detected acetone, disulfur monoxide, and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Io. This global view of Io was obtained in January 1999 by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. Image credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona. Io is the innermost of…

Using information from the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers in India have detected acetone, disulfur monoxide, and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Io.

This global view of Io was obtained in January 1999 by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. Image credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona.

This international view of Io was acquired in January 1999 from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. Image credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona.

Io is the innermost of the four Galilean moons of both Jupiter and the fourth-largest moon in our Solar System.

Aside from Earth, it is the only known place in the Solar System using volcanoes erupting hot lava such as that in the world.

Io has more than 400 active volcanoes, that are brought on by tidal heating, the result of gravitational forces from Jupiter and other Jovian moons.

The moon’s yellow-white-orange-red coloration is made by sulfur dioxide-frost on its own surface, elemental sulfur along with many different sulfur allotropes.

Io has a feel atmosphere which may teach us about the exotic continent’s volcanic action and give us a window to its interior.

“The thin atmosphere of Io primarily consists of various volatile substances like sulfur dioxide (SO2), sulfur monoxide (SO), sodium chloride (NaCl), and the low amount of water,” Arijit Manna in Midnapore City College and Dr. Sabyasachi Pal from the Indian Centre for Space Physics clarified in their newspaper.

“The volcanic species on Io are mainly formed by the combination of specific sublimation of volcanic frost layer and outgassing.”

In the study, the astronomers examined the high heeled interferometric information gathered by ALMA.

They identified that the emission lines of acetone (CH3COCH3) and disulfur monoxide (Stwo O) and also an absorptional line of carbon dioxide (CO).

“The formation mechanism of acetone in the volcanic atmosphere of Io is completely unknown but the spectroscopic detection implies that a big amount of methane compounds may exist,” the investigators wrote.

“The carbon monoxide gas is formed with the photolysis of acetone; disulfur monoxide is formed by the decomposition of sulfur monoxide by the disproportionation method.”

“The volatile acetone and carbon monoxide are probably rising in the brightness of the Loki hot spot,” they noted.

“Disulfur monoxide is primarily responsible for the red feature observed in Io’s volcanoes.”

“The detected species in the volcanic atmosphere using ALMA calls for more comprehensive studies of their rotational lines and requires a re-examination of whether they co-exist in the same atmospheric position, and then to get more specific densities to predict the chemical formation process,” they concluded.

The group’s newspaper was printed March 31, 2021 about the arXiv.org preprint server.

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Arijit Manna & Sabyasachi Pal. 2021. ALMA discovery of acetone, disulfur monoxide, and carbon monoxide from the Jupiter volcanic moon Io. arXiv: 2103. 17018

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