Mysterious bright spot on Ceres has a partner

Ceres

PLUMES OR PATCHES? Two bright patches on Ceres, seen in this image from the Dawn spacecraft, could be plumes of water vapor, one scientist speculates.

JPL-Caltech/NASA, UCLA, MPS, DLR, IDA

An enigmatic bright patch on the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body between Mars and Jupiter, has a dimmer companion in the same basin. The duo, seen in an image from the Dawn spacecraft when it was about 46,000 kilometers from Ceres, could be a sign of active ice volcanoes.

Dawn will arrive at Ceres on March 6 after an eight-year voyage that included a 14-month stop at the asteroid Vesta. Once there, Dawn will spend the rest of the year mapping Ceres in a quest to better understand the history of the solar system.

headshot of Associate News Editor Christopher Crockett

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

More Stories from Science News on Planetary Science

From the Nature Index

Paid Content