Differentiation and cryovolcanism on Charon: A view before and after New Horizons

Steven Desch, M. Neveu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Before the arrival of the New Horizons probe at the Pluto-Charon system, we developed a series of models that predicted that Kuiper Belt Objects, even as small and as cold as Charon, have experienced internal ice-rock differentiation and possibly cryovolcanism. Confronting these predictions is a wide array of spectroscopy, imagery, and other data from New Horizons. In this article we compare the predictions against the new observations, and find that they largely support the expected history of the Pluto system and the evolution of Charon. Following the collision of two partially differentiated impactors with radii ≈1000 km, a disk of material formed around Pluto, from which Charon and Pluto's other moons formed. Because the impactors did not completely differentiate, the disk contained rocky material from their crusts, explaining the moons’ different densities and compositions. Long-lived radionuclides in Charon, assisted by ammonia antifreeze in the ice, melted ice and created a subsurface ocean that eventually refroze ≈1.7−2.5 Gyr ago. The freezing of this ocean would have created extensional stresses that possibly created Serenity Chasma, and could have led to widespread resurfacing, explaining the apparently younger age of Vulcan Planum. Buildup of radiogenic heat then created a second, smaller ocean that refroze 0.5–1.7 Gyr ago. As it froze, cryovolcanism would have been enabled, possibly creating Kubrick Mons. Charon's “moated mountains” such as Kubrick Mons have a natural explanation as cryovolcanoes depressing a thin lithosphere over a cryomagma chamber. We offer further predictions about other aspects of Charon's surface. Our previous predictions that Charon is a world shaped by geological activity have been largely borne out by New Horizons observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-186
Number of pages12
JournalIcarus
Volume287
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Fingerprint

Charon
Pluto
horizon
Pluto (planet)
prediction
ice
Moon
ocean
oceans
impactors
natural satellites
predictions
freezing
radionuclide
lithosphere
imagery
ammonia
antifreezes
collision
spectroscopy

Keywords

  • Charon
  • Formation
  • Interiors
  • Satellites
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Differentiation and cryovolcanism on Charon : A view before and after New Horizons. / Desch, Steven; Neveu, M.

In: Icarus, Vol. 287, 01.05.2017, p. 175-186.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{796a6fdb7c8a434cb62022f4422a8e26,
title = "Differentiation and cryovolcanism on Charon: A view before and after New Horizons",
abstract = "Before the arrival of the New Horizons probe at the Pluto-Charon system, we developed a series of models that predicted that Kuiper Belt Objects, even as small and as cold as Charon, have experienced internal ice-rock differentiation and possibly cryovolcanism. Confronting these predictions is a wide array of spectroscopy, imagery, and other data from New Horizons. In this article we compare the predictions against the new observations, and find that they largely support the expected history of the Pluto system and the evolution of Charon. Following the collision of two partially differentiated impactors with radii ≈1000 km, a disk of material formed around Pluto, from which Charon and Pluto's other moons formed. Because the impactors did not completely differentiate, the disk contained rocky material from their crusts, explaining the moons’ different densities and compositions. Long-lived radionuclides in Charon, assisted by ammonia antifreeze in the ice, melted ice and created a subsurface ocean that eventually refroze ≈1.7−2.5 Gyr ago. The freezing of this ocean would have created extensional stresses that possibly created Serenity Chasma, and could have led to widespread resurfacing, explaining the apparently younger age of Vulcan Planum. Buildup of radiogenic heat then created a second, smaller ocean that refroze 0.5–1.7 Gyr ago. As it froze, cryovolcanism would have been enabled, possibly creating Kubrick Mons. Charon's “moated mountains” such as Kubrick Mons have a natural explanation as cryovolcanoes depressing a thin lithosphere over a cryomagma chamber. We offer further predictions about other aspects of Charon's surface. Our previous predictions that Charon is a world shaped by geological activity have been largely borne out by New Horizons observations.",
keywords = "Charon, Formation, Interiors, Satellites, Volcanism",
author = "Steven Desch and M. Neveu",
year = "2017",
month = "5",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.icarus.2016.11.037",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "287",
pages = "175--186",
journal = "Icarus",
issn = "0019-1035",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Differentiation and cryovolcanism on Charon

T2 - A view before and after New Horizons

AU - Desch, Steven

AU - Neveu, M.

PY - 2017/5/1

Y1 - 2017/5/1

N2 - Before the arrival of the New Horizons probe at the Pluto-Charon system, we developed a series of models that predicted that Kuiper Belt Objects, even as small and as cold as Charon, have experienced internal ice-rock differentiation and possibly cryovolcanism. Confronting these predictions is a wide array of spectroscopy, imagery, and other data from New Horizons. In this article we compare the predictions against the new observations, and find that they largely support the expected history of the Pluto system and the evolution of Charon. Following the collision of two partially differentiated impactors with radii ≈1000 km, a disk of material formed around Pluto, from which Charon and Pluto's other moons formed. Because the impactors did not completely differentiate, the disk contained rocky material from their crusts, explaining the moons’ different densities and compositions. Long-lived radionuclides in Charon, assisted by ammonia antifreeze in the ice, melted ice and created a subsurface ocean that eventually refroze ≈1.7−2.5 Gyr ago. The freezing of this ocean would have created extensional stresses that possibly created Serenity Chasma, and could have led to widespread resurfacing, explaining the apparently younger age of Vulcan Planum. Buildup of radiogenic heat then created a second, smaller ocean that refroze 0.5–1.7 Gyr ago. As it froze, cryovolcanism would have been enabled, possibly creating Kubrick Mons. Charon's “moated mountains” such as Kubrick Mons have a natural explanation as cryovolcanoes depressing a thin lithosphere over a cryomagma chamber. We offer further predictions about other aspects of Charon's surface. Our previous predictions that Charon is a world shaped by geological activity have been largely borne out by New Horizons observations.

AB - Before the arrival of the New Horizons probe at the Pluto-Charon system, we developed a series of models that predicted that Kuiper Belt Objects, even as small and as cold as Charon, have experienced internal ice-rock differentiation and possibly cryovolcanism. Confronting these predictions is a wide array of spectroscopy, imagery, and other data from New Horizons. In this article we compare the predictions against the new observations, and find that they largely support the expected history of the Pluto system and the evolution of Charon. Following the collision of two partially differentiated impactors with radii ≈1000 km, a disk of material formed around Pluto, from which Charon and Pluto's other moons formed. Because the impactors did not completely differentiate, the disk contained rocky material from their crusts, explaining the moons’ different densities and compositions. Long-lived radionuclides in Charon, assisted by ammonia antifreeze in the ice, melted ice and created a subsurface ocean that eventually refroze ≈1.7−2.5 Gyr ago. The freezing of this ocean would have created extensional stresses that possibly created Serenity Chasma, and could have led to widespread resurfacing, explaining the apparently younger age of Vulcan Planum. Buildup of radiogenic heat then created a second, smaller ocean that refroze 0.5–1.7 Gyr ago. As it froze, cryovolcanism would have been enabled, possibly creating Kubrick Mons. Charon's “moated mountains” such as Kubrick Mons have a natural explanation as cryovolcanoes depressing a thin lithosphere over a cryomagma chamber. We offer further predictions about other aspects of Charon's surface. Our previous predictions that Charon is a world shaped by geological activity have been largely borne out by New Horizons observations.

KW - Charon

KW - Formation

KW - Interiors

KW - Satellites

KW - Volcanism

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85008168609&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85008168609&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.icarus.2016.11.037

DO - 10.1016/j.icarus.2016.11.037

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85008168609

VL - 287

SP - 175

EP - 186

JO - Icarus

JF - Icarus

SN - 0019-1035

ER -