Image credit: Bill Saxton, NSF/AUI/NRAO
By Sarah Fecht
Since water is one of the vital ingredients for life on Earth, scientists want to know how it got here. One theory is that the water in our solar system was created in the chemical afterbirth of the Sun. If that were the case, it would suggest that water might only be common around certain stars that form in certain ways. But a new study, published today in Science, suggests that at least some of Earth’s water actually existed before the Sun was born — and that it came from interstellar space.
That’s certainly something to ponder the next time you drink a glass of water. But the discovery is also cool because it means water — and maybe life — may be ubiquitous throughout the galaxy.
“If water in the early Solar System was primarily inherited as ice from interstellar space, then it is likely that similar ices, along with the prebiotic organic matter that they contain, are abundant in most or all protoplanetary disks around forming stars,” study author Conel Alexander explained in a press release.
The researchers concluded that a significant portion of Earth’s water came from interstellar space by looking at the relative abundance of hydrogen and deuterium.
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