If this applies to Mercury, then it likely applies to Psyche too. His study is in press with Geophysical Research Letters.
The Central Nervous System
While these calculations were being carried out, Johnson, along with his colleagues, were also pondering the oddities of Psyche. Johnson presented his independent research at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference earlier this year in The Woodlands, Texas. His team uses similar modelling to come up with an almost-identical hypothesis, finding that molten, sulfur-enriched iron and nickel could propagate to the surface via volcanic veins.
Furthermore, back in the early days of the solar system, the radioactive isotope aluminum kept the cores of many large rocky or metallic bodies molten. Genge points out that asteroids have fairly weak gravitational fields, meaning that plenty of their material can be ejected into space. Genge suggests this applies to trace elements in the core, like oxygen and sulfur, some of which are vital for biological processes.
If ferrovolcanism drains them away, then this could place restrictions on the appearance and evolution of life on the resulting planet. Ferrovolcanism could also explain strange features seen in meteorite samples on Earth. Pallasites are a class of meteorites thought to be a mix of core and mantle material, but how that mixture actually arises is far from clear.
Johnson suggests that ferrovolcanism would be one way that core and mantle material could blend together. At the same time, chondrites—common stony meteorites—are also peppered with rounded, shiny inclusions known as chondrules, some of which are iron-nickel rich.
The Poe Decoder - A Fissure of Mind
Although suspected to have formed when metal-rich asteroids slammed into each other, causing buckshot-like sprays of liquid metal that then flash-froze in the icy chill of deep space, Genge suggests that such chondrules could be the result of ferrovolcanic processes instead. When it comes to meteorites, plenty of mysteries remain. After all, meteorites are just the shrapnel of larger bodies, says Elkins-Tanton.
The proof lies in the pudding. Still, it is more likely that the trapped heat within Psyche seeped out eons ago. Its remains, however, might linger even today—even though no one expects to see a full-blown extinct volcano. Yet such formations would more likely be obliterated by millions of years of bombardment from impacts. The outside-in cooling regime could allow certain crystalline volcanic minerals nearer to the surface to preserve the tell-tale magnetic stamp of a partially-frozen liquid core.
Sorry for the Inconvenience
Those same minerals would also bear a unique hue, texture and geochemical fingerprint to identify them as ferrovolcanic products. Although Abrahams reckons the huge suite of collected meteorites may be a more effective place to look for ferrovolcanic evidence, he still holds out hope for evidence gathered from that ancient metallic world. Metallic meteorites are in general the outcome of eons of gradual mixing, reducing and solidifying in a world-sized slow-cooker pot.
That means samples from Psyche may chronicle how cores evolved over time, revealing a lost chapter from the long, murky history of the birth of planets. As we are yet to visit a metallic asteroid, it is difficult for anyone to say with confidence what we may ultimately discover. Robin George Andrews is a volcanologist and science writer based in London. You have free article s left.
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See Subscription Options. Chill Out, Psyche Psyche has likely had an extremely eventful 4. Using picks, hoes and crowbars, Mathison has furrowed terracotta into jagged patterns of ridges and grooves, creating a majestic sculptural frieze recording the processes of sowing and tilling, and evoking the deep wounds embedded within the collective Zimbabwean psyche.
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