A Different Kind Of Tide

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Ok, this image may be a little deceiving. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m going to write a little about tidal heating. Tidal heating has nothing to do with making the tides on Earth catch on fire, I just thought that was a beautiful image and it made for a good pun.

Tidal heating is best seen in Jupiter’s moon Io. Scientists wondered how the moon could have such active volcanic activity given its size, and tidal heating is the explanation. Much like Earth and our moon, The Moon, interact with tidal forces, Io and Jupiter do as well. However, Jupiter is much larger than Earth, and Io’s orbit is also highly elliptical due to gravitation force interactions from Jupiter’s other moons and Io. These factors together mean that Io experiences an extremely large amount of varying tidal squeezes from Jupiter as it goes through its orbit around Jupiter.

“The Cosmic Perspective” by Jeffrey O. Bennett, Megan O. Donahue, Nicholas Schneider, and Mark Voit uses a great analogy of Silly Putty being squeezed, the more it is squeezed into different shapes it heats up and becomes more malleable. The same goes for Io, except the added heat leads to volcanism. (Good thing that doesn’t happen with Silly Putty!) The forces acting on Io cause friction in the world leading to over 200 times as much heat generated as from the radioactive heat on Earth.

 

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