Published on January 24th, 2014
Discovery: Dwarf planet Ceres “spits” water in space! (VIDEO)
Localized and intermittent emissions of water vapor were first detected around the asteroid Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, informs AFP.
The discovery, according to the study published in the journal Nature, was made from observations made between November 2011 and March 2013, by the Herschel telescope, the most powerful infrared telescope in Europe deactivated in June 2013, after four years of operation.
Ceres releases water vapors at a rate of six kilograms per second, established the international team of astronomers, led by Michael Küppers of the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC).
This discovery provides new arguments in favor of theories that life on Earth began after a “bombardment” from space.
“This is the first detection of genuine water vapor around an asteroid”, said one of the study authors, Dominique Bockelée-Morvan, Observatory of Paris.
Discovered in 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi, the asteroid Ceres has a spherical shape with a diameter of 960 kilometers. Scientists believe that it was composed of a core of stone, surrounded by a mantle of ice.
The theory that one of the main components of the asteroid is water has circulated for about 30 years, but this is the first time that water molecules were identified directly as a gas, coming to the surface of the celestial body .
Astronomers were able to establish that water sprays come from two sources who look like two ” huge geysers”, said the National Research Center (CNRS) in a statement.
According coordinated team of Michael Küppers, water evaporation phenomenon may have two causes. The firstanswer may lie in the phenomenon of “sublimation” - ice froms directly into vapor - as it happens when a comet approaches the Sun. A second reason could be the contrary, the phenomenon of “criovulcanism”, during which ice volcanoes, detected on the surface of Titan, Saturn’s moon, do not erupt lava, but volatile elements, such as water.
The asteroid Ceres is the largest body in the asteroid belt of the solar system. Since 2006, Ceres was also officially classified as “dwarf planet” like Pluto.