[pasmembers] Where all that water comes from: Followup

  • From: Alex Vrenios <axv@xxxxxxx>
  • To: pasmembers@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2014 08:01:59 -0700

New insights into the source of water in a solar system: a followup to an 
earlier discussion. The study was published in this week’s issue of the journal 
Science. Here is a summary article from MSN News:

"Scientists have long debated whether the solar system’s water came from ice 
ionized during the formation of the solar system, or if it predated the solar 
system and originated in the cold interstellar cloud of gas from which the sun 
itself was formed.

“'It's remarkable that these ices survived the entire process of stellar 
birth,' lead researcher Lauren Cleeves, told Reuters.

"Cleeves, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, had been studying 
how radioactivity, galactic cosmic rays and other high-energy phenomena impact 
planet-forming disks of matter that circle young stars.

"The 'aha' moment, she said, was realizing that conditions in the early solar 
system weren’t right for synthesizing new water molecules.

“'Without any new water creation, the only place these ices could have come 
from was the chemically rich interstellar gas out of which the solar system 
formed,' she said.

"To prove the point, she and colleagues ran computer models comparing ratios of 
hydrogen with its heavier isotope, deuterium, which has been enriching the 
solar system’s water over time.

"To reach the ratios found in meteorite samples, as well as in Earth's ocean 
water and comets, at least some of the water would have had to be formed before 
the sun’s birth, the scientists concluded.

"The process likely would be the same for other solar systems as well, 
suggesting conditions hospitable for life could exist beyond Earth."

So, maybe NOVA had it right after all! (At least for now.)

Alex

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