The volcano, which is named Ahuna Mons, was formed relatively recently. Image Credit: NASA
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has identified what appears to be an ice volcano on the dwarf planet's surface.
The largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres has been the subject of much intrigue recently thanks to its mysterious bright spots and anomalous surface features.
Now scientists have identified what they believe to be evidence of cryovolcanism there as well in the form of a large volcano formed millions of years ago by briny 'lava' flowing up from far below.
Cryovolcanoes, which are produced through processes involving freezing liquids or gases rather than molten rock, have long been suspected on several icy worlds in our solar system including Saturn's moon Titan and the distant world of Pluto which was also visited just last year.
"Ahuna Mons is evidence of an unusual type of volcanism, involving salty water and mud, at work on Ceres," said NASA's Ottaviano Ruesch. "Geologic activity was discussed and debated among scientists: now we finally have observations testifying to its occurrence."