Pebble Accretion at the Origin of Water in Europa

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 18, 2017
Filed under
Pebble Accretion at the Origin of Water in Europa

Despite the fact that the observed gradient in water content among the Galilean satellites is globally consistent with a formation in a circum-Jovian disk on both sides of the snowline, the mechanisms that led to a low water mass fraction in Europa (∼8%) are not yet understood.

Here, we present new modeling results of solids transport in the circum-Jovian disk accounting for aerodynamic drag, turbulent diffusion, surface temperature evolution and sublimation of water ice. We find that the water mass fraction of pebbles (e.g., solids with sizes of 10−2 — 1 m) as they drift inward is globally consistent with the current water content of the Galilean system.

This opens the possibility that each satellite could have formed through pebble accretion within a delimited region whose boundaries were defined by the position of the snowline. This further implies that the migration of the forming satellites was tied to the evolution of the snowline so that Europa fully accreted from partially dehydrated material in the region just inside of the snowline.

Thomas Ronnet, Olivier Mousis, Pierre Vernazza
(Submitted on 18 Jul 2017)

Comments: Accepted for publication in ApJ
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1707.05496 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1707.05496v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Thomas Ronnet
[v1] Tue, 18 Jul 2017 06:47:32 GMT (9721kb,D)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻