The Ceres dwarf planet, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, has organic compounds on the surface that most likely come from its own guts.
These are materials similar to a type of terrestrial hydrocarbons. These compounds, along with the ice water, carbonates, salts and minerals that appear to be present in Ceres, add ingredients to the chemistry necessary to generate the molecules that gave rise to life.
This is explained by the authors of a study published this week in the scientific journal Science. The work was made possible by data provided by an instrument from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which orbits Ceres (which is about 940 kilometers in diameter) since 2015.
According to the authors, the probable presence of water in Ceres, added to the internal heat that perhaps retained of its period of formation, would have made possible that the organic compounds were formed in its interior.(The Ceres dwarf planet)
But this conclusion leads to another question, for the moment unanswered: How did these organic compounds reach the surface of the planet from within? Be that as it may, locating and analyzing in detail outside the Earth organic compounds like those now identified in Ceres is, for researchers, good news.
These compounds are a desire of astrophysicists because they can help to understand not only how the solar system was formed, but even how life appeared on our planet.
“It’s the first time we see such a clear mark on an extraterrestrial body,” says a recorded video from the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Planetology of Rome. “Ceres is a body that deserves a complete exploration in the near future,” they say.
Now, the main plan is to “refine the search hoping to find new places” where these desired organic compounds are present.