Scientists have discovered evidence in a distant solar system to support the theory that Earth’s oceans — didn’t start on Earth.
ScienceDaily reports on GD 61, a white dwarf star 170 light years away, being closely orbited by the remains of a large asteroid.
While most of the asteroid is some sort of rock, 26 percent of its mass is water.
At some point, GD 61 pulled this asteroid close enough to shred with its gravitational forces. When scientists analyzed the star’s spectral signature, they detected elemental traces of the asteroid — its high water content — scattered on the surface of the star. (Via phys.org)
Scientists believe the same process might have seeded an early Earth with its water reserves.
The theory is Earth was formed too close to our sun to support its own liquid water. And given that the planet is a mere 0.02 percent water, and most of it is on the surface, scientists think most of it might have been delivered by water-rich asteroids after it was formed. (Via nasa.gov)
This is also the first time we’ve spotted both rocky material and large quantities of water together at the same time. The lead researcher on the project says the evidence suggests GD 61 might have had potentially habitable planets of its own at some point.
“These water-rich building blocks, and the terrestrial planets they build, may, in fact, be common — a system cannot create things as big as asteroids and avoid building planets.” (Via space.com)
The full results of the research have been published in the journal Science.