Energy sources for Triton's geyser-like plumes

R. H. Brown, R. L. Kirk, T. V. Johnson, L. A. Soderblom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Four geyser-like plumes were discovered near Triton's south pole in areas now in permanent sunlight. Because Triton's southern hemisphere is nearing a maximum summer solstice, insolation as a driver or a trigger for Triton's geyser-like plumes is an attractive hypothesis. Trapping of solar radiation in a translucent, low-conductivity surface layer (in a solid-state greenhouse), which is subsequently released in the form of latent heat of sublimation, could provide the required energy. Both the classical solid-state greenhouse consisting of exponentially absorbed insolation in a gray, translucent layer of solid nitrogen, and the "super" greenhouse consisting of a relatively transparent solid-nitrogen layer over an opaque, absorbing layer are plausible candidates. Geothermal heat may also play a part if assisted by the added energy input of seasonal cycles of insolation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-435
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume250
Issue number4979
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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    Brown, R. H., Kirk, R. L., Johnson, T. V., & Soderblom, L. A. (1990). Energy sources for Triton's geyser-like plumes. Science, 250(4979), 431-435. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.250.4979.431