Friday, December 11, 2015

Mystery Bright Spots on Dwarf Planet, 'Ceres' Solved

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By Alyssa Newcomb

      Scientists have finally cracked the mystery of the unexplained lights on the dwarf planet Ceres that were speculated to be everything from alien cities to ice volcanoes.

After months of research gathered from the Dawn spacecraft, two new studies published in the journal "Nature" are shedding new light on what the 130 bright spots observed on Ceres could be and the surprising place where the dwarf planet may have formed.

In the first study, scientists determined those unusual areas of brightness are likely deposits of a salty substance comprised of magnesium sulfate, similar to epsom salt on Earth. The deposits were likely left when water-ice sublimated, scientists said. The impact from asteroids would have then unearthed the salty mixture, according to the study.

The second study reported the detection of ammonia-rich clays, suggesting Ceres may have not formed in the asteroid belt and instead may have been born in the outer solar system.

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