In a finding that has given new and stronger clues on possibility of life on other planets, a group of scientists has found that the age of water present in the Earth’s ocean, meteorites and their frozen form in lunar craters much older than the birth of the solar system.
The issue of ‘origin of water in the solar system’ had been rigorously debated for so many years as the scientists were clueless about whether they came from ice ionized at the time of formation of the solar system or if the water was present much before the birth of the solar system and originated in the cold interstellar cloud of gas that led to the formation of the sun.
“It’s remarkable that these ices survived the entire process of stellar birth.” lead researcher Lauren Cleeves, from the University of Michigan said.
Cleeves, a doctoral student, have been researching on how galactic cosmic rays, radioactivity and other phenomena of high-energy impact planet-forming disks and contribute to the formation of celestial bodies.
According to Cleeves, the conditions in the early solar system weren’t ideal for the synthesis of new water molecules.
“Without any new water creation, the only place these ices could have come from was the chemically rich interstellar gas that led to the formation of the solar system.
For the in-depth study, the researchers ran computer models in order to compare ratios of hydrogen with deuterium, a heavier isotope of the gas (hydrogen) that has been enriching the water on the solar system over time.
Following the experiment, the researchers concluded that in order to reach the ratios present in the Earth’s ocean water as well as comets and meteorite samples, there is huge possibility that at least some of the water would have had to be formed before the birth of the sun.
The researchers highlighted that the finding’s conclusion provides strong evidence to the possibility of similar process on other solar systems too, making them ideal for supporting life.
Also this week, a second paper in Science notes the discovery of a branched carbon-containing molecule involved in the creation of stars.
Study researcher Arnaud Belloche, from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, said, “Understanding the production of organic material at the early stages of star formation is critical to piecing together the gradual progression from simple molecules to potentially life-bearing chemistry.”
The findings of the study were published in the latest issue of the journal Science.