Surface Albedo and Spectral Variability of Ceres

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Friday, January 15, 2016

Jian-Yang Li, Vishnu Reddy, Andreas Nathues, Lucille Le Corre, Matthew R. M. Izawa, Edward A. Clouts, Mark V. Sykes, Uri Carsenty, Julie C. Castillo-Rogez, Martin Hoffmann, Ralf Jaumann, Katrin Krohn, Stefano Mottola, Thomas H. Prettyman, Michael Schaefer, Paul Schenk, Stefan E. Schröder, David A. Williams, David E. Smith, Maria T. Zuber, Alexander S. Konopliv, Ryan S. Park, Carol A. Raymond, Christopher T. Russell
(Submitted on 14 Jan 2016)

Previous observations suggested that Ceres has active but possibly sporadic water outgassing, and possibly varying spectral characteristics in a time scale of months. We used all available data of Ceres collected in the past three decades from the ground and the Hubble Space Telescope, and the newly acquired images by Dawn Framing Camera to search for spectral and albedo variability on Ceres, in both a global scale and local regions, particularly the bright spots inside Occator crater, over time scales of a few months to decades. Our analysis has placed an upper limit on the possible temporal albedo variation on Ceres. Sporadic water vapor venting, or any possibly ongoing activity on Ceres, is not significant enough to change the albedo or the area of the bright features in Occator crater by >15%, or the global albedo by >3% over various time scales that we searched. Recently reported spectral slope variations can be explained by changing Sun-Ceres-Earth geometry. The active area on Ceres is less than 1 km2, too small to cause global albedo and spectral variations detectable in our data. Impact ejecta due to impacting projectiles of tens of meters in size like those known to cause observable changes to the surface albedo on Asteroid Scheila cannot cause detectable albedo change on Ceres due to its relatively large size and strong gravity. The water vapor activity on Ceres is independent of Ceres' heliocentric distance, rulling out the possibility of comet-like sublimation process as a possible mechanism driving the activity.

Comments: Accepted by ApJ Lett
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1601.03713 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1601.03713v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Jian-Yang Li [view email]
[v1] Thu, 14 Jan 2016 20:11:05 GMT (736kb)

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