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Ammoniated phyllosilicates with a likely outer Solar System origin on (1) Ceres

Abstract

Studies of the dwarf planet (1) Ceres using ground-based and orbiting telescopes have concluded that its closest meteoritic analogues are the volatile-rich CI and CM carbonaceous chondrites1,2. Water in clay minerals3, ammoniated phyllosilicates4, or a mixture of Mg(OH)2 (brucite), Mg2CO3 and iron-rich serpentine5,6 have all been proposed to exist on the surface. In particular, brucite has been suggested from analysis of the mid-infrared spectrum of Ceres6. But the lack of spectral data across telluric absorption bands in the wavelength region 2.5 to 2.9 micrometres—where the OH stretching vibration and the H2O bending overtone are found—has precluded definitive identifications. In addition, water vapour around Ceres has recently been reported7, possibly originating from localized sources. Here we report spectra of Ceres from 0.4 to 5 micrometres acquired at distances from ~82,000 to 4,300 kilometres from the surface. Our measurements indicate widespread ammoniated phyllosilicates across the surface, but no detectable water ice. Ammonia, accreted either as organic matter or as ice, may have reacted with phyllosilicates on Ceres during differentiation. This suggests that material from the outer Solar System was incorporated into Ceres, either during its formation at great heliocentric distance or by incorporation of material transported into the main asteroid belt.

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Figure 1: Average spectrum of Ceres.
Figure 2: Spectrum of Ceres compared with spectra of carbonaceous chondrites.
Figure 3: Spectral fits of the spectrum of Ceres.
Figure 4: Spectral fits of the spectrum of Ceres with ammonia-bearing species.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the following institutions and agencies, which supported this work: the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA, USA) and the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR, Germany). The VIR was funded and coordinated by the Italian Space Agency and built by SELEX ES, with the scientific leadership of the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, Italy, and is operated by the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Rome, Italy. A portion of this work was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract to NASA. We thank J. L. Bishop and D. Takir for reviews, and D. Takir for providing spectra of carbonaceous chondrites plotted in Fig. 2.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

M.C.D.S., A.R., E.A. and G.C. performed data analysis and calibration. M.C. provided optical constants from reflectance spectra. F.T. provided the surface temperatures. M.C.D.S., S.M., H.Y.M., T.B.M. and C.M.P. contributed to the interpretation of the data. All authors contributed to the discussion of the results and to writing the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. C. De Sanctis.

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 End-member spectra used for spectral fit modelling.

a, Spectra of minerals showing a prominent absorption at 2.7 μm. b, Spectra of minerals showing a prominent 3.06–3.1 μm band. c, Spectra of carbonates; and d, spectra of dark components and carbonaceous chondrites used in the modelling. All panels show the Ceres spectrum (black) for comparison.

Extended Data Figure 2 Spectral fit of the spectrum of Ceres including water.

a, b, Red curves, results of the spectral fitting model using water ice and amorphous carbon (a) or water ice and magnetite (b). Ceres’ spectrum is in black. The error bars are calculated taking into account a mean absolute deviation of the calibration uncertainties along the 256 samples.

Extended Data Figure 3 Spectral fit of the spectrum of Ceres including carbonaceous chondrites.

ad, Results of the spectral fitting model (red curves) using water ice and Ivuna CI chondrite (a; heated at 500 °C); water ice and MAC 87300 CM chondrite (b); water ice and Murchison CM chondrite (c; heated at 500 °C); and water ice, Ivuna CI chondrite (heated at 500 °C) and brucite (d). Ceres’ spectrum is in black. Error bars and vertical grey bars as in Extended Data Fig. 2.

Extended Data Figure 4 Spectral fit of the spectrum of Ceres including cronstedtite, tochilinite and brucite.

ad, Results of the spectral fitting model (red curves) using tochilinite, cronstedtite, dolomite and magnetite (a); antigorite, cronstedtite, dolomite and magnetite (b); tochilinite, brucite, dolomite and magnetite (c); and antigorite, brucite, dolomite and magnetite (d). Ceres’s spectrum is in black. Error bars and vertical grey bars as in Extended Data Fig. 2.

Extended Data Figure 5 Spectral fit of the spectrum of Ceres including different carbonates.

ad, Results of the spectral fitting model (red curves) using NH4-annite, antigorite, magnetite and siderite (a); NH4-annite, antigorite, magnetite and calcite (b); NH4-annite, antigorite, magnetite and magnesite (c); and NH4-annite, antigorite, magnetite and dolomite (d). Ceres’ spectrum is in black. Error bars and vertical grey bars as in Extended Data Fig. 2.

Extended Data Table 1 End-members used in the mixtures
Extended Data Table 2 Details of results obtained using different end-members

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De Sanctis, M., Ammannito, E., Raponi, A. et al. Ammoniated phyllosilicates with a likely outer Solar System origin on (1) Ceres. Nature 528, 241–244 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature16172

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