What are these bright spots on Ceres?

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Offline Teakhat

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What are these bright spots on Ceres?
« on: 27/02/2015 03:57:46 »
It would be great...and entertaining...to field probable causes BEFORE we really determine what's going on! What's causing these bright spots??? Ay ideas????

newbielink:http://www.sci-news.com/space/science-two-bright-spots-dwarf-planet-ceres-02540.html [nonactive]


Offline evan_au

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Re: What are these bright spots on Ceres?
« Reply #1 on: 27/02/2015 22:01:45 »
In the past, there was thought to be a clear distinction between:
  • comets: volatile snowballs containing some dust
  • asteroids: Rock balls that contain no volatiles 

However, they are now seen to be more of a continuum, and these bright spots could be some volatiles from within Ceres erupting into the base of an old crater, and freezing into fresh white ice.

There has been water vapour discovered near Ceres, lending support to the idea that this may be water vapour escaping, and freezing near the vent. Wikipedia says:
"On 22 January 2014, ESA scientists reported the detection, for the first definitive time, of water vapor on Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. The detection was made by using the far-infrared abilities of the Herschel Space Observatory. The finding is unexpected because comets, not asteroids, are typically considered to "sprout jets and plumes". According to one of the scientists, "The lines are becoming more and more blurred between comets and asteroids." "

But it implies that there is some internal heat source that raises the internal temperature above 0C - because the outside is well below the freezing point of water. Tidal impacts from Jupiter would be miniscule, so perhaps the heat source is radioactivity, or the impact that blasted out the crater?

It could be other volatiles like CO2, which will turn into a liquid when under pressure, and into a vapor at even lower temperatures than water.
« Last Edit: 27/02/2015 22:04:22 by evan_au »