Monday, March 3, 2008

LPSC 2008: Detailed Analysis of the Tvashtar Plume Spectral Behavior

In the second LPSC abstract highlighted on this blog, Kandis Lea Jessup and John Spencer present the work they have done on Hubble images of Io taken during last year's New Horizons encounter. In particular, they are using the images they acquired at different wavelengths with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 to study the spectral behavior of the Tvashtar plume.

While the images acquired by Hubble have a lower spatial resolution than those taken by New Horizons' LORRI camera (180 km per pixel for the WFPC2 versus at top resolution of 11.2 km per pixel for LORRI), the WFPC2 has a higher spectral resolution than New Horizons' MVIC instrument, particularly at ultraviolet wavelengths which is particularly important for identifying gases within Io's plumes. Jessup and Spencer observed Io and the Tvashtar plume on multiple occassions last February, allowing the authors to examine the plume's reflectance spectra (i.e. looking at how much light reflects off the plume, which can depend on composition, particle size, and phase angle) and absorption spectra (i.e. looking at how much light from the background Jupiter passes through the plume to Hubble).

The authors found the plume to be most noticeable in both sets of observation in the ultraviolet F255W filter, indicative of S2 gas in the plume. The authors had a similar result at Pele in 2000. They do note that the Tvashtar plume has a much higher optical depth in the F255W filter than Pele.

Interesting work. They do promise to present more work on how optical depth varies by wavelength for both Pele and Tvashtar in their poster. It is so interesting to see just how similar the Pele and Tvashtar plumes despite the apparent difference in volcanic styles: Pele being a vigorously erupting lava lake and Tvashtar being a fissure eruption. Must have to do with the magmas at both locations having a higher volatile content, allowing the formation of a bright lava fountain at Tvashtar and a constantly overturning lava lake at Pele. Note the fact that as far as I know, Pele and Tvashtar are the only two volcanoes where using relatively short exposures, it is easy to see their hotspots in the daylight, at wavelengths less than 1 micron, and at relatively low resolutions.

Link: Detailed Analysis of the Tvashtar Plume Spectral Behavior []

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