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'Dwarf planet' in deep space has water

Published on Jan 23, 2014 2:52 AM

PARIS (AFP) - Ceres, a tiny planet in the asteroid belt, spouts water vapour, a finding that strengthens theories that life on Earth was kickstarted by a bombardment of space rocks, scientists said Wednesday.

European astronomers reported they saw vapour spewing geyser-like from the surface of Ceres, the biggest object in the asteroid belt lying between Mars and Jupiter.

Ceres was first recorded in 1801 by the Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, who named it after the Roman goddess of agriculture and fertility.

Measuring 950 kilometres across, taking about four and a half years to orbit the Sun, it was initially taken to be simply a massive asteroid, a huge piece of rubble left over from the creation of our planet system.

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