Saturn's Moon Enceladus May Have Curtain Eruptions Instead Of Jets

NASA has revealed that what have appeared to be geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus may, in fact, be "curtain" eruptions — basically long meandering eruptions that form wall-like structures down the moon's surface. These eruptions are composed of ice and vapor, and can measure in at hundreds of miles in length. They have appeared to be geysers due to optical illusions based on the viewing angle and such. In a video, available after the jump, NASA shows how these optical illusions may work.

As you can see in the video below, what initially appear to be geysers may, in fact, be long curtain eruptions that trace down the moon's surface. Researcher point toward four so-called tiger stripes — long fractures on the moon's south pole — where the explosions take place. Due to optical illusions, the long explosions appeared to be many small individual jets.

Researchers point toward fuzzy areas as one clue that these must be long curtains rather than jets, as well as difficulty in pinpointing the source of the jets. The areas where the "jets" appeared most detailed, it is believe the fractures sort of fold the curtains against each other, resulting in areas of more force.

Still, there could be actual jet eruptions rather than curtain eruptions in some places — if parts of the fractures are filled with debris, for examples, jets might erupt between the debris is areas that are still exposed. In the future, the researchers are going to look into whether tidal forces have an effect on the fractures and subsequent eruptions.