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Energy sources for triton's geyser-like plumes

October 19, 1990

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.

Publication Year 1990
Title Energy sources for triton's geyser-like plumes
DOI 10.1126/science.250.4979.431
Authors R. H. Brown, Randolph L. Kirk, T. V. Johnson, Laurence A. Soderblom
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science
Index ID 70015941
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center