Ceres is a dwarf planet that is in the Asteroid Belt. It also has a unique feature in that it has one ice volcano on it. Astronomers are still wondering why Ceres has only one ice volcano. A study says that disappearing ice volcanoes could be found on Ceres.
Ceres is not unique in having an ice volcano, as other bodies in the solar system have it also. Ceres though is unique since it only has one ice volcano on it. This has made astronomers wonder why it only has one ice volcano.
Researchers now believe that Ceres once had other ice volcanoes on it, but those have disappeared millions of years ago. The structure of Ahuna Mons, the ice volcano on Ceres, has also puzzled astronomers. It has steep sides and its features are also well-defined, which indicates that it is a relatively young volcano.
Researchers think that the other ice volcanoes on Ceres might have eroded or flattened out a long time ago. It is still not known how the ice volcanoes could have eroded, since Ceres doesn't have any atmosphere. There is no climate condition that could possibly trigger erosion on Ceres.
Michael Sori, lead author of the study and from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in the University of Arizona has said that the other ice volcanoes could have disappeared in a process known as viscous relaxation. The theory is that any solid object will flatten itself out in time.
Sori used the example of glaciers on Earth as a form of viscous relaxation, according to the American Geophysical Union's site. Volcanoes on Earth don't show much of the process since it is made out of rock. However, glaciers are made of ice, which is the same material that Ahuna Mons has.
Sori and his colleagues have made a model to show how viscous relaxation could affect the ice volcano, as Science Daily reports. Based on the model, Sori has said that it should be made of at least 40 percent ice in order for the process to be made. The process would take a long time to happen, which could be millions of years before Ahuna Mons also disappears.
Sori and his team will next work out on where are the other ice volcanoes located on Ceres. The study has shown that disappearing ice volcanoes could be found on Ceres. The Earth also recently had a near miss with an asteroid.