Earth’s water is billions of years older than the sun – Space & Astronomy

The water we still have on Earth today dates back tens of billions of years, even before the birth of the sun. This is evidenced by observations of a star in formation 1,305 light-years away from us, a kind of image that has allowed us to reveal the distant past of our solar system. This distant event was captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) ALMA radio telescope, which is located in the Chilean Andes, in the Atacama Desert. The data was analyzed by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory group in the United States, coordinated by John Tobin published In the journal Nature.

For the first time, researchers have been able to analyze in detail the various occurrences of water molecules around a still-forming star, called V883 Orionis. In particular, they recognized the chemical signature of water consisting of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen and distinguished it from water in which the hydrogen atom is replaced by one of its substituents, deuterium.

Artist’s impression of the water surrounding the star V883 Orionis information. In the box on the right, two types of water detected (Source: ESO / L. Calçada)

These two types of water can only form under very special circumstances, and learning about the percentages of each provides a kind of signature for age and origin. Something very similar could also have happened around our sun: “This means that water in our solar system formed long before the sun, planets and comets did,” said Merrill van te Hoff, a University of Michigan astronomer and co-author of the book. the paper.

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