Cryovolcano called Ahuna Mons was discovered by NASAâ€™s Dawn spacecraft on the dwarf planet Ceres.
12:22 06 February 2017
A cryovolcano – a solitary ice volcano – has been recently discovered on the dwarf planet Ceres. New research suggests that there may have been others that slowly disappeared over millions of years.
The cryovolcano has been discovered in 2015 by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft and since then, it has been capturing images and topography data to build up a clearer picture of the dwarf planet.
Dr Michael Sori, a researcher at the Lunar and Planetary laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and lead author of the research, said: 'Imagine if there was just one volcano on all of Earth.
'That would be puzzling.
'We think we have a very good case that there have been lots of cryovolcanoes on Ceres but they have deformed.
Ceres has no atmosphere so the research team proposed that viscous relaxation, or the concept that any solid will flow given enough time, was the reason why the volcanoes disappear. This concept takes place in glaciers but do not affect volcanoes on Earth as they are made of rock.
Dr Kelsi Singer, a postdoctoral researcher who studies icy worlds at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who was not involved with the research, said: 'It would be fun to check some of the other features that are potentially older domes on Ceres to see if they fit in with the theory of how the shapes should viscously evolve over time.'
'Because all of the putative cryovolcanic features on other worlds are different, I think this helps to expand our inventory of what is possible.'