Simulation of gas dynamics and radiation in volcanic plumes on Io

J. Zhang, D. B. Goldstein, P. L. Varghese, N. E. Gimelshein, S. F. Gimelshein, D. A. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modeling results of volcanic plumes on Jupiter's moon Io are presented. Two types of low density axisymmetric SO2 plume flows are modeled using the direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method. Thermal radiation from all three vibrational bands and overall rotational lines of SO2 molecules is modeled. A high resolution computation of the flow in the vicinity of the vent was obtained by multidomain sequential calculation to improve the modeling of the radiation signature. The radiation features are examined both by calculating infrared emission spectra along different lines-of-sight through the plume and with the DSMC modeled emission images of the whole flow field. It is found that most of the radiation originates in the vicinity of the vent, and non-LTE (non-local-thermodynamic equilibrium) cooling by SO2 rotation lines exceeds cooling in the ν2 vibrational band at high altitude. In addition to the general shape of the plumes, the calculated average SO2 column density (∼ 1016 cm-2) over a Pele-type plume and the related frost-deposition ring structure (at R ∼500 km from the vent) are in agreement with observations. These comparisons partially validate the modeling. It is suggested that an observation with spatial resolution of less than 30 km is needed to measure the large spatial variation of SO2 near a Pele-type plume center. It is also found that an influx of 1.1 × 1029 SO2 s-1 (or 1.1 × 104 kg s-1) is sufficient to reproduced the observed SO2 column density at Pele. The simulation results also show some interesting features such as a multiple bounce shock structure around Prometheus-type plumes and the frost depletion by plume-induced erosion on the sunlit side fo Io. The model predicts the existence of a canopy shock, a ballistic region inside the Pele-type plume, and the negligible effect of surface heating by plume emission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-197
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheres
  • Dynamics
  • Io
  • Radiative transfer
  • Satellite
  • Satellites of Jupiter
  • Surfaces
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Simulation of gas dynamics and radiation in volcanic plumes on Io'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this