Scientists have lately detected the presence of organic matter on dwarf planet Ceres' surface, which adds this planet in the list of other celestial bodies that have the potential to harbour life.
Other celestial candidates that are likely to shelter life are -- Jupiter's moon Europa, Saturn's moon Enceladus and Mars.
The organic matter present on the dwarf planet was spotted with the help of Dawn's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIR). After analysing the accumulated information, researchers concluded that they discovered organic matter on Ceres.
"The organics discovery adds to Ceres' attributes associated with ingredients and conditions for life in the distant past," a NASA statement revealed.
The research was led by Maria Cristina De Sanctis of Rome's National Institute of Astrophysics along with other colleagues.
"This is the first clear detection of organic molecules from orbit on a main belt body," Maria Cristina De Sanctis said in a NASA statement.
It has been found that Ceres' surface comprises of salt, carbonates, ammonia-bearing hydrated minerals, water ice and other life's building blocks. This points towards the dwarf planet possessing a complex chemical environment which supports existence of chemicals that exist before the origin of life -- prebiotic chemistry.
Compounds having carbon-hydrogen bonds have also been detected in the dwarf planet's Ernutet crater. Also, organic compounds, which contain carbon bonded with elements like hydrogen, oxygen or nitrogen, were spotted in the region located a few kilometres from the crater.
After these findings, researchers formed this hypothesis that the matter detected on Ceres doesn't belong to any interstellar source such as space rocks. They also believe that there is an ocean under its surface which comprises of liquid water along with water ice and other molecules, which makes this dwarf planet more complex than the researchers previously thought.
"It's not just an accumulation of rock, but in fact, it's been doing things," Chris Russell of NASA told New Scientist.
"What it's doing on the inside is not entirely clear yet, but the organic material on the surface indicates that there are processes within Ceres regulated by heat and water," Russell concluded.