Geologists have studied how a small space body like Cerera generates the heat needed for the Earth's geological activity, and they have explained some of the surface features that were discovered earlier by NASA's Dawn mission.
Using modelling, a group of scientists from several universities, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey and the Institute of Planetary Science, have found that the break-up of radioactive elements inside the Cerera can sustain its activity.
The study of large planets, such as Earth, Venus and Mars, showed that, at the birth of the planet, it was very hot, because of the clash between objects that formed the planet. On the contrary, the church was not large enough to become a planet and produce heat in the same way.
The model of the inner part of the dwarf planet developed by the team showed a unique sequence: the Cerera was initially cold and then heated by the break-up of radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium, which turned out to be sufficient to maintain active geological activity until the inner part became unstable.
This instability may explain some of the surface features that emerged on Ceres, such as the large plateau formed on only one side of the dwarf planet and the fractures were grouped in one place around it.