July 12, 2024

How Water Moves Through the Universe – Study Reveals New Details

How Water Moves Through the Universe – Study Reveals New Details

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from: Tanya Banner

A disk of material formed around the star V883 Orionis, where planets, comets, and asteroids form. (artist rendering) © ESO / L. Calzada

How did the water reach the earth? A new study finds the missing link and traces water’s journey through the universe.

Charlottesville – How did the water get to the ground? The question is old, but not yet fully resolved. The researchers note that water is conserved when young stars form in dense clouds in space. The relationship between comets and planets has already been observed. But the link is still missing: How does water get from young stars to comets?

“We can see the path of water through the universe as a path,” explains astronomer John Tobin. “We know the end point, which is water on planets and in comets. But we want to trace the path back to the beginnings of water.” in the journal nature published.

How water in the universe moves from stars to comets and planets

“So far we’ve been able to link Earth to comets and protostars to the interstellar medium. But we haven’t been able to link protostars to comets,” says the researcher, whose study has now changed that. Working with a research team, Tobin took a closer look at the protostar V883 Orionis in the constellation of Orion. The star originating from Earth is about 1,300 light-years away and is surrounded by a disk of material from which comets, asteroids and planets eventually form.

“V883 Orionis is the missing link in this case,” Tobin explains. The researcher is sure: “We can now trace the origins of water in our solar system back to the time before the formation of the sun.” With the help of the ALMA telescope in Chile, Tobin’s research group has the gaseous water in the surrounding disk examine Protostar.

Water's Journey into the Universe: A cloud of gas, in which water is also present, collapses into a star.  A cloud of material forms around this, which also contains water.  Planets, asteroids and comets form in this cloud - this is how water migrates through space.  (artist show)
Water’s Journey into the Universe: A cloud of gas, in which water is also present, collapses into a star. A cloud of material forms around this, which also contains water. Planets, asteroids and comets form in this cloud – this is how water migrates through space. (artist rendering) © ESO / L. Calzada

A new study tracks the path of water through the universe

In fact, water carries a chemical signature that explains the path of water from the clouds, from which stars are formed, to the planets. “The composition of the water in the disk is very similar to that of comets in our solar system,” Tobin explains in one communication And he continues, “This confirms the idea that water in planetary systems originated billions of years ago, before the formation of the sun,” the researcher concludes.

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However, observing the water turned out to be very difficult, recalls co-author Margot Lemker of the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands. “Most of the water in the planet-forming disks is frozen like ice, so it’s not normally visible to us,” explains the researcher. On the other hand, carbonated water can be observed, but it is mainly found in the inner part of the disk, where it is warmer – and the dusty disk gets in the way.

Protostar V883 Orionis helps solve the mystery of water

But a recently published study shows that the disk around V883 Orionis is unusually warm. The star heats the disk “to a temperature where water is no longer frozen but gas, allowing us to observe it,” Tobin says.

Its co-author Merel van ‘t Hoff summarizes the results of the study in message Together: “This means that the water in our solar system formed long before the sun, planets and comets.” Researchers already knew that there is a lot of water ice in interstellar space. “Our results show that this water was sucked directly into the solar system during its formation,” said the University of Michigan astronomer. “This is exciting because it indicates that other planetary systems should have received significant amounts of water as well.” (Tab)

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