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A volcano on Io is on the brink of erupting, report scientists who have analysed observations of Jupiter's innermost moon going back decades.
Although it is difficult to predict when most volcanoes will erupt, Io's 'Loki Patera' — named after the Norse god — typically follows a relatively regular timetable.
Loki - Miles - Kilometres - Lake - Centre
Loki, which is around 126 miles (203 kilometres) wide, has a lava lake at its centre that can be seen by telescopes on Earth and periodically overturns during eruptions.
'Loki is the largest and most powerful volcano on Io, so bright in the infrared that we can detect it using telescopes on the Earth,' said Julie Rathbun, a researcher at the Planetary Science Institute in Tuscon, Arizona.
Decades - Observations - Researchers - Track - Loki
Based on more than two decades of such observations, researchers have been able to keep track of Loki's eruptions — events that cause the volcano to appear temporarily brighter.
In 2002, Dr Rathbun and colleagues revealed that the volcano was largely following a relatively regular schedule — erupting around every 540 days in the 1990s.
Timetable - Loki - Magma - Days
This timetable would appear to have accelerated, however, with Loki now venting magma around every 475 days instead.
'If this behaviour remains the same, Loki should erupt in September 2019,' said...
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