Scientific Breakthroughs

Dwarf Planet Ceres Shows Some Mysterious ‘Cold Traps’ and Bright Spots

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Mysterious 'Cold Traps' on Dwarf Planet Ceres Bright Spots

Dwarf planet Ceres has some mysterious secrets and uncovering them only put more question. While “cold traps” in Mercury and the moon are clarified, the ones in Ceres remain a bit bizarre.

In March 2015, NASA’s spacecraft Dawn, the first probe to orbit Ceres, aims to shed some light about the dwarf planet, especially when astronomers spotted unexplained bright spots inside a crater. It is found out that these bright flashes are caused by the existence of ice on the crust of Ceres.

“Cold Traps” in Dwarf Planet Ceres

Bright Spots in Dwarf Planet Ceres

Ceres, a dwarf planet and the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. (Source: Giphy)

From being demoted to an asteroid, and then promoted to a dwarf planet, the largest object in the asteroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter continues to give wonder to many astronomers. That is why for the first time, they sent Dawn to learn about Ceres in more depth.

In a new study published in Nature Astronomy, astronomers were able to look closer into Ceres’ darker regions and shadowed craters. They were able to discover “cold traps,” or a spot where ice is stored.

Even though Mercury and the moon have their own cold traps, the ones in Ceres were deemed to be more mysterious. The co-author of the study, Norbert Schorghofer, reveals that they are curious about how the ice was able to get there and how it lasted so long.

Schorghofer says it might be caused by the dwarf planet’s “ice-rich crust,” or it may be bizarrely “delivered from space.”

Even Thomas Platz, the lead researcher of Mac Planck Institute, who have been studying around 634 cold traps in the darker regions of Ceres, says it is “unlikely” for the solar wind to be responsible for the formation of water in the dwarf planet because of its distance from the sun.

Moreover, even though there is the presence of water in Ceres, the possibility of life is discarded as the conditions on the planet is simply not possible. What dwarf planet Ceres may have to offer, meanwhile, is space mining.

Photo source: Flickr

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