Published in new research in Nature astronomy, a large team of astronomers has put a new perspective on the strangest world in our solar system. It looks like Ceres has been going through a busy period for the last few billion years, including random small amounts of volcanism, but of a type that can not be seen anywhere else in the solar system.
Ceres is the largest world in the asteroid belt, and is believed to be a remnant of the proto-planet, or the kind of small worlds that served as the building blocks of the planets that we see today. There is abundant evidence that Ceres has once had an ocean that has been frozen ever since, and the seductive clues to a geologically active history.
Ceres even seems to have a form of volcanism. There are two types of volcanism in the solar system, mostly: the types of eruptions of magma on earth and Jupiter's moon Io, with heated rock rising from the core to the surface. And then there is the kind of volcanism on Europe and Enceladus, where large plumes with frozen water erupt. Scientists call this cryovolkanism.
Ceres & mud volcanoes
Hanna Sizemore, a research scientist and author of the Planetary Science Institute on paper, says that Ceres volcanoes are a weird mix of both. "The big difference with Ceres is that you are in this hybrid between the inner rocky solar system and the icy outer solar system," she says. That means that although water can be a driving mechanism for the volcanoes, the actual material can include rock, salt and heated material from the interior of Ceres, which is simultaneously a rocky and an icy world. When those volcanoes explode, "It would probably look superficial as lava extrusion on Earth, but it would be mud that would escape cracks or cracks on the surface," says Sizemore.
Sizemore says that about once every 50 million years a new cryo volcano appears on Ceres, as shown by data from the Dawn spacecraft, which has been circling around Ceres for about three years. The vessel has a series of domes & # 39; seen to rival the world as mountains, but are made of ice that has since descended after their volcanic active period has ended, making them somewhat leveled.