According tomedia CNET, the existence of a huge “tiger strip” on Saturn’s moon Enceladus has been a mystery to scientists, with a moon hiding a liquid ocean under an icy shell. But now they have a possible explanation.
In a new study published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy, a team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Davis, and the Carnegie Institution for Science examined the icy “scars” of Titan to determine the physical forces that allow abnormal streaks to form. The four fissures appear only in Titan’s southern hemisphere, and they are evenly spaced as if the planet had been scratched by a giant claw.
“This kind of streak can’t be found anywhere else in our solar system,” said Doug Hemingway, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science and lead author of the paper. No other icy planet or satellite has something exactly like them. “
NASA’s Cassini probe, which has been orbiting Saturn and its moons for 13 years, has found that Saturn’s sixth largest moon continues to spray water and organic compounds into space, making it an “attractive” place to look for signs of life. The probe also found that Titan’s South Pole contains an almost parallel “tiger pattern”, a large crack that is more than 80 miles (130 kilometers) long and extends along the icy surface.
Titan’s polar regions experience the maximum heat in any region of the moon because the gravitational changes caused by Saturn’s eccentric orbit continue to pull its surface, which means that these regions contain the thinnest ice sheet on the entire moon. The researchers believe that heating and cooling cause pressure to accumulate under the shell, eventually cracking. According to the model, this may occur in the Arctic or Antarctic, but happens in the south by accident. Once cracks appear, the accumulated pressure can be reduced – and no further cracks can be formed in this way.
However, the team hypothesized that a larger crack, called the “Baghdad trench,” was the first to form, causing further stress on Titan’s ice crust and causing further ruptures in a clear but related manner. When the water ice spewed out of the Baghdad Trench, it began to exert more pressure on the thin ice sheet, bending it, causing another crack 22 miles away.
“Our modelling of the physical effects experienced by the satellite’s icy crust points to potentially unique sequences of events and processes that may allow for the presence of these unique streaks,” Hemingway said. “