Origin of ammoniated phyllosilicates on dwarf planet Ceres and asteroidsOPEN ACCESS 

Santosh K. Singh, Alexandre Bergantini, Cheng Zhu, Marco Ferrari, Maria Cristina De Sanctis, Simone De Angelis & Ralf I. Kaiser

Nature Communications, Volume 12, Article number: 2690 (2021)


“The surface mineralogy of dwarf planet Ceres is rich in ammonium (NH4+) bearing phyllosilicates. However, the origin and formation mechanisms of ammoniated phyllosilicates on Ceres’s surface are still elusive. Here we report on laboratory simulation experiments under astrophysical conditions mimicking Ceres’ physical and chemical environments with the goal to better understand the source of ammoniated minerals on Ceres’ surface. We observe that thermally driven proton exchange reactions between phyllosilicates and ammonia (NH3) could trigger at low temperature leading to the genesis of ammoniated-minerals. Our study revealed the thermal (300 K) and radiation stability of ammoniated-phyllosilicates over a timescale of at least some 500 million years. The present experimental investigations corroborate the possibility that Ceres formed at a location where ammonia ices on the surface would have been stable. However, the possibility of Ceres’ origin near to its current location by accreting ammonia-rich material cannot be excluded.”