Icy volcanoes speculated to be the source of Ceres bright spots

Icy Volcanoes Speculated To Be The Source Of Ceres' Bright Spots
Icy Volcanoes Speculated To Be The Source Of Ceres' Bright Spots

A few weeks back, NASA's Dawn probe beamed back pictures of Ceres, and astronomers were surprised to see two bright spots on the dwarf planet's surface.

The picture lacked the detail necessary to say for sure what's causing them, but several theories have been formed. Among those getting a great deal of attention is that the source of the spots are vapor-spewing icy volcanoes.

Scientists put forth support for that idea at the Lunar and Planetary Science conference held in The Woodlands, Texas. As part of their presentation they showed a side view of the celestial body. In it, the glow is still visible, indicating that whatever's causing it rises above the upper edges of the crater that houses the source.

Further, it's been determined that the light varies in intensity throughout the day and fades at night. That could indicate that the sun plays an important role in the feature's activities, possibly even as a warming source that causes subsurface ice to blast through what's above it.

Dawn isn't due to take closer photos of the area until mid-April, so until then what's serving as the light source will remain uncertain.

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Originally published