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Home / Behind the mirror / Mystery “Bright Spots” On Asteroid Ceres Are Changing, And It Shocked The Scientific Community!

Mystery “Bright Spots” On Asteroid Ceres Are Changing, And It Shocked The Scientific Community!

Asteroid (dwarf-planet) Ceres
Asteroid (dwarf-planet) Ceres

The now-famous “bright spots” on the dwarf planet Ceres have been observed to detectably increase and decrease in brightness, if ever-so-slightly.

And what’s particularly interesting is that these observations were made not by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, currently in orbit around Ceres, but from a telescope right here on Earth.

Researchers using the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument on ESO’s 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla detected “unexpected” changes in the brightness of Ceres during observations in July and August of 2015.

Variations in line with Ceres’ 9-hour rotational period—specifically a Doppler effect in spectral wavelength created by the motion of the bright spots toward or away from Earth—were expected, but other fluctuations in brightness were also detected.

“The result was a surprise,” said Antonino Lanza from the INAF–Catania Astrophysical Observatory, co-author of the study. “We did find the expected changes to the spectrum from the rotation of Ceres, but with considerable other variations from night to night.”

These two bright spots rocked the scientific and the conspiracy theory community to investigate deeper in the subject…

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