Astronomers have detected an abundance of water in the form of gas in a disk of planet-forming material that surrounds a distant star. The disk appears to contain hundreds of times more water than in all of Earth’s oceans.
The discovery could give clues as to how water moves from star-forming clouds of gas and dust to planets, and could also indicate that Earth’s water may be older than the sun.
The team of astronomers reached their conclusion as a result of observations of V883 Orionis, an infant star or “protostar” located around 1,300 light-years from Earth in the Orion constellation using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Northern Chile.
“We can now trace the origins of water in our solar system to before the formation of the sun,” National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) astronomer and research lead author, John J. Tobin, said in a statement. (opens in new