Scientists have uncovered the mystery of the origin of the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres located in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It turned out that beneath the surface of a celestial body could be hiding a salty ocean. This publication reports Science Alert.
In early 2015 the Dawn probe has photographed an abnormally bright spot in the impact crater Okkator the age of 20 million years. Later researchers found that the spots correspond to the deposits of sodium carbonate. On Earth this mineral is located near hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. However, the origin of carbonate on Ceres remained a mystery. According to different hypotheses, sediment could occur due to the melting of subsurface ice caused by a collision with an asteroid, or in the bowels of the planet contains a layer of liquid brine.
According to recent figures, obtained before the Dawn end of mission inside the crater and outside of it there are changes in the gravitational field, which points to differences in density, corresponding to the presence of brine under the Okkator. Salt deposits formed by the seepage of salt water through cracks resulting from impact. In addition, the researchers found that the bark of the dwarf planet is quite porous, however, with the depth of the breed is increasingly mixed with salt.
There is evidence that salt deposits are much younger than the crater. For example, were discovered mineral hydrohalic containing a large amount of water. He quickly dehydrated, for tens or hundreds of years, which indicates that the brine seeped through the surface of Ceres recently.