Thursday, 23 January 2014

Signs of Youth on Dwarf Planet Ceres

Ceres. Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), P. Thomas (Cornell University), and L. McFadden (University of Maryland, College Park).

Joel Kontinen

Recent discoveries of water and active volcanoes have brought big surprises to astronomers who have assumed that the outer solar system should display signs of mature age.

The latest finding is water vapour that the dwarf planet Ceres seems to be spouting.

According to New Scientist,

Astronomers used to believe that asteroids from the main belt were too close to the sun to stay wet, and only comets from the far fringes of the solar system were able to hold onto any water ice. But recently, asteroid-belt objects have been spotted with comet-like tails of dust streaming behind them, suggesting that they too have solid ice on their surfaces that is vaporising and releasing dust into space.”"

Astronomers believing in the nebular hypothesis have a huge problem: how can liquid water survive for billions of years on a small planet?

Logic would suggest that it cannot.


Grossman. Lisa. 2014. Dwarf planet caught spitting inside asteroid belt. New Scientist (22 January).