The Frost Line
Ceres is a dwarf planet covered by a dusty regolith (outer soil layer). No one is quite sure what is beneath that dust. The answer to the question may help astronomers to understand something about the early solar system.
Why It Matters
- The placements of the planets in our solar system led scientists to an idea.
- The hot sun drove off the ices and gases when the inner planets formed. Further out in the solar system, cooler temperatures allowed gases and ices to exist.
- The result is that the rocky planets are near the sun and the gas giants are further out.
With the links below, learn more about the frost line. Then answer the following questions.
- Teach Astronomy, Condensation in the Solar Nebula (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEy5SNizeZM
- DawnMissionEPO, Ceres Series: Part I – Beyond the Frostline (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGRTujsttfA
- Why didn’t the solar system cool uniformly? How did it cool instead?
- What is the frost line?
- Why do scientists want to know what is beneath the dusty regolith of Ceres?
- Comet ISON came from the far outer reaches of the solar system. When it got to the sun, it broke apart. What do you think the comet was made of and why did it break apart?