Here’s the ‘missing link’ in the origin of water: it appeared in interstellar space when the Sun didn’t even exist

A team of researchers used the ALMA telescope, installed in the Atacama desert, in Chile, and managed to detection of water in the planet-forming disk around the star V883 Orionis. And it was not a little – that the mothering of new worlds contains, at least, 1200 times the amount of water in all the Earth’s oceans. THE An article with the results of this research work was published this Wednesday in the scientific journal “Nature”.

But how can the recent discovery, made in a protoplanetary disk located about 1300 light years away, explain the appearance of water in the Solar System? “We can now trace the origin of water in our Solar System before the formation of the Sun”says John J. Tobin, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and lead author of the study.

“V883 Orionis provides us with the missing link”says Tobin, citing a statement from the European Southern Observatory (ESO). “The composition of water in the disk [protoplanetário] it is very similar to that of comets in our Solar System.”observes the astronomer.

This, the author argues, “confirms the idea that water in planetary systems formed billions of years ago, before the Sun, in interstellar space and was inherited from both comets and Earth, relatively unchanged”.

The Sun is 4.6 billion years old, slightly older than the eight known planets that orbit it, which formed 4.5 billion years ago. However, this new study supports the idea that water already existed in the cloud of gas and dust that created the star.

The team of astronomers analyzed the chemical signatures of the water found in V883 Orionis and concluded that it is a “slightly heavier versionrather than plain water. Instead of consisting of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, one of the hydrogen atoms is replaced by a deuterium – a heavy isotope of hydrogen.

“Most of the water in planet-forming disks is in the form of ice and is therefore usually hidden from our view”, says Margot Leemker, co-author of the study. Water vapor can be found in the innermost regions of the disks, near the star, where the temperature is highest.

The disk of V883 Orionis is unusually hot, as the huge amount of energy emitted by the star creates such a high temperature “where the water is no longer ice but a gas, which allows it to be detected,” he explains. Tobin.

“Such a study will give us a much more complete picture of ice and gas in planet-forming disks.”concludes Leemker.

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