Titan is a pretty peculiar cosmic object from our solar system. Being the biggest moon of Saturn, Titan has some stunning characteristics. It’s the only known moon that possesses a dense atmosphere, and scientists are certain that the cosmic object has liquid on its surface.
But you know how things go when it comes to astronomy: the more you research, the more you realize that there’s a lot more to discover. The same principle applies to Titan, and scientists now have new insights.
Cryovolcanism possibly happening today
In a new study done by the Planetary Science Institute (PSI), scientists concluded that morphological features from the northern polar region of Titan are incredibly similar to volcanic features that are present on Earth. These structures could be evidence of cryovolcanism. The study was also conducted by Dr. Charles A. Wood, who is a data scientist with the PSI in Tucson, AZ.
Dr. Wood explained in a statement:
“The close association of the proposed volcanic craters with polar lakes is consistent with a volcanic origin through explosive eruptions followed by collapse, as either maars or calderas. The apparent freshness of some craters may mean that volcanism has been relatively recently active on Titan or even continues today.”
There’s now also evidence for an internal heating mechanism of Titan, which is similar to what has been observed on other moons like Europa and Enceladus. This means that tidal stresses produced by interaction with the host planet (Jupiter and Saturn) causes the heat to expand inside the moons’ cores.
Life on Titan?
The discovered features sustain the idea that Titan’s interior could support life. Dr. Wood further added:
“That these features are at the polar regions, near the lakes of methane, may indicate methane, nitrogen or some other volatile may power them. The features appear relatively fresh, meaning they could still be forming today.”
The study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.