Ceres water regime: surface temperature, water sublimation and transient exo(atmo)sphere
Formisano et al
Recent observations of water emission around Ceres suggest the presence of an ice layer on or beneath the surface of this asteroid. Several mechanisms have been suggested to explain these plumes, among which cometary-like sublimation seems to be plausible, since there is a correlation between the magnitude of the emission and the change in the heliocentric distance along the orbit. In this work, we applied a comet sublimation model to study the plausible scenarios that match with Herschel observations of the water flux (1026 molecules s−1). Each scenario is characterized by a well-defined set of physical and orbital parameters. Moreover, a study of the dynamic evolution of the H2O plume has been performed, showing that an optically thin transient atmospheric envelope, with a typical timescale of some tens of days, can be maintained by the H2O surface emission. Our simulations could be useful theoretical support for the Dawn NASA mission by giving a better understanding of the physical conditions for water sublimation and ice stability.