Scientists discover water remarkably similar to Earth's in orbit around young star 1,300 light-years away
Astronomers used the powerful ALMA radio telescopeand studied V883 Orionis, a protostar 1,300 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Orion. There they found gaseous water. Its chemical composition is similar to that found in comets flying past the Earth. This is vital evidence that the water they brought to our ancient planet came from gas clouds that are "older than the sun," the scientists write.
Astronomers have previously observed the movement of water fromgas clouds into disks forming planets around young stars and then from comets to planets. But the missing link in the chain—the "transfer" of water from young stars to comets—was missing. Now researchers have finally filled the knowledge gap. The findings were published March 8 in the journal Nature.
Time-lapse of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA). Image courtesy of ESO/C. Malin
"V883 Orionis is our missing link,"explains John J. Tobin, study lead author and astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, West Virginia. - The composition of water in the disk is very similar to the composition of comets in the solar system. This supports the idea that water in planetary systems formed billions of years ago, before our star appeared. Comets and the Earth have inherited it relatively unchanged.
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Cover photo: The forming disk around the star V883 Orionis. Image courtesy of ESO/L. Calcada