Astronomy picture of the day: Ceres giant cone

Posted: March 7, 2016 by tallbloke in Astronomy, Astrophysics, solar system dynamics

Ceres giant ‘cone’ and adjacent ‘crater’

OK, any ideas how the heck this was formed? It’s around 6 miles high apparently. Very mysterious feature.

  1. ntesdorf says:

    This is obviously a mining excavation and adjacent spoil heap left over from the now defunct Ceres hydrated minerals, magnesium sulfate hexahydrite and clay.mining company run, in the past, by the now extinct Martian civilisation. The great height of the spoil heap (Ahuna Mons) is due to the weak gravity on Ceres.

  2. Sphene says:

    Could this conical mountain be a large block of material excavated out by an impact from a different location, that landed by chance where it is now?  On this image, there may be a large surface gouge beyond and left of it, also showing some bright material:

    More images and information:

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    Considering the size of Cere. It likely collected one of its’ moons or fellow travelers. Sphene points to a better view of the overall area, A slow speed hit, gouge, bounce and landing…pg

  4. oldbrew says:

    OT: ‘ A 100-foot-wide asteroid named TX68 will safely pass Earth on Tuesday [8 Mar.] about three million miles away, but it could come as close as 15,000 miles to the planet’s surface, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).’

    ‘TX68, which was discovered in by Italian astronomer Marco Micheli in 2013, is larger than the 65-foot asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Feb. 15, 2013 with the explosive force of about half a million tons of TNT, NASA said.’

  5. Bloke down the pub says:

    FWIW, my guess would be that the region is subsiding, but the cone has a more solid foundation and is left standing proud of the rest of the surface. The crater looks like something left by the collapse of a subsurface void. It’s probably all due to climate change.

  6. Jason Calley says:

    Hey Bloke down the pub! “The crater looks like something left by the collapse of a subsurface void.”

    Good point! Yes, the crater does look more like the result of surface collapse instead of meteoric impact. For one thing, there is no central hump. Suppose there were (long ago) a huge water ice deposit under the surface, and the ice sublimated or melted, allowing the crater to form as the ice disappeared. That would give us a crater pretty much as seen. As for the cone shaped mountain… that is more difficult, but consider this. Ceres may have had a hot interior long ago. Would it be possible for some sort of heat plume beneath the Ceres crust to melt the ice in one spot (forming the crater) and for the melted ice water to flow away and refreeze below the surface elsewhere, accumulating until it had raised the cone? Perhaps that would be unlikely, but then again, the cone seems to not be common, and the lower gravity may make the raising of such a mountain easier.

  7. Zeke says:

    “Casting a telltale shadow at the bottom is Ceres’ cone-shaped, lonely mountain Ahuna Mons.”

    It looks like a butte, mesa or a plateau to me. They often have the fanned out skirt at the bottom.

    Since geological theory requires that forces present on the asteroid now had to form the plateau over many eons, then the only conclusion possible is it was shaped over many eons by forces present now.


  8. oldbrew says:

    Is Ceres’ Mysterious Bright Dome an Ice Volcano?

    Sounds unlikely but who knows?

  9. oldbrew says:

    Latest Images from NASA’s Dawn Orbiter Show Ceres’ Bright Craters

    Quote: ‘Haulani’s polygonal nature is noteworthy because most craters seen on other planetary bodies, including Earth, are nearly circular.’