Scientists Now Can Trace Origins of Water to Pre-Sun Age

Water dropInternationalIndiaAfricaWater is thought to have been brought to Earth by comets that collided with our young planet billions of years ago; however, it’s believed it did not form with the rest of the solar system. New findings have suggested the compound was already a component of the pre-solar nebula.To understand the origin of water on Earth, researchers studied the emissions of two types of water, ordinary and heavy. These two types of water differ at the atomic level, with the ratio between them completely unique. As such, the finding gave officials insight into where exactly water comes from.However, what has proven evasive to officials was the time period in which the component came to be.Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), researchers found a connection between water and star system formation in a young system 1,300 light-years from Earth.

"V883 Orionis is the missing link in this case," John J. Tobin, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, USA and lead author of the study, said in a statement. "The composition of the water in the disc is very similar to that of comets in our own Solar System. This is confirmation of the idea that the water in planetary systems formed billions of years ago, before the Sun, in interstellar space, and has been inherited by both comets and Earth, relatively unchanged."

Officials have indicated that the water we drink and use is much older than our planet. “We can now trace the origins of water in our Solar System to before the formation of the Sun,” says Tobin.At the same time, the study was fraught with the problem of detecting and recording data.“Most of the water in planet-forming discs is frozen out as ice, so it’s usually hidden from our view,” says co-author Margot Leemker, a PhD student at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.Fortunately, V883 Orionis is a peculiar system. It’s unusually hot because of starbursts that have turned ice into gas, and ALMA was able to study the composition of the gas, finding a connection between cosmic and terrestrial water.The findings led scientists to assume that the source of all water in the planetary system is the clouds from which its star was born.“We conclude that disks directly inherit water from the star-forming cloud and this water becomes incorporated into large icy bodies, such as comets, without substantial chemical alteration,” the researchers write in their paper.The research has been published Wednesday in the journal Nature.


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