What are These Glowing Spots on the Dwarf Planet Ceres?

By Ria Misra on at

Ceres has been home to a lot of strange sights for scientists to wonder over — but nothing has been as confounding as the presence of several strange glowing areas on the planet’s surface. Here’s what they are—and something new that helped confirm it.

So what are those glowing spots? They’re salt. NASA released the big news on Ceres strange spots yesterday — and today they followed up with an amazing visualisation showing just how big and widespread these glowing areas are.

In the video explainer below, you’ll see those spots glowing blue. This is, of course, a false colour image, but it’s not just done to make it more visually stunning. It’s also an important way that scientists double-checked their work.

False colour visualisation is a scientific tool that NASA uses to uncover more information about the kinds of material they’re dealing with from far away. That false colour blue shade you’re seeing was one way that scientists confirmed that the glowing spots they were seeing from 2,700 miles away were most likely salt deposits. It also suggests, NASA says, that there could be silicate compounds in there too.

Images via NASA JPL

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