First Disk-Resolved Millimeter Observations Of Io's Surface And SO2 Atmosphere

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Moullet, A.
Lellouch, E.
Moreno, R.
Gurwell, M. A.
Moore, C.

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Aims. In spite of considerable progress in the last two decades, Io's atmosphere remains poorly understood. The goal of this work is to improve our understanding of its spatial distribution, temperature and dynamics. Methods. We present millimeter observations of Io's surface and SO2 atmosphere at 1.4 mm obtained with the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer in January-February 2005. With a synthesized beam of 0.5 x 1.5 '', these observations resolve Io's similar to 1.0 '' disk in the longitudinal/local time direction, and sample the leading and trailing hemispheres of Io. Results. The measured continuum total flux and visibilities show that continuum radiation originates from a depth of at least 1 cm in Io's subsurface. On both the leading and trailing sides, emission in the SO2 216.643 GHz line appears spatially narrower than the continuum, and suggests that the atmosphere covers similar to 80% of the surface on the leading side and similar to 60% on the trailing. On the leading side, disk-resolved spectra yield Doppler shift measurements, indicating a beam-integrated limb-to-limb velocity difference of 330 +/-3 100 m/s in the prograde direction. Such a flow allows an improved fit of disk-averaged SO2 spectra, but its origin remains to be understood. Mean gas temperatures are in the range 130-180 K, in agreement with estimates from IR measurements, and with a tendency for higher trailing vs leading side gas temperatures. On the basis of realistic plume models, we find that the contribution of isolated volcanic plumes to the SO2 emission is small.



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Moullet, A., E. Lellouch, R. Moreno, M. A. Gurwell, and C. Moore. >First disk-resolved millimeter observations of Io's surface and SO2 atmosphere.> Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol. 482, No. 1 (Apr., 2008): 279-292.