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Water being delivered to other planets in the same way as it was to Earth, scientists say, giving hope for life elsewhere

Published 07/05/2015

Water was probably dropped on Earth by asteroids and comets carrying it — and the same seems to be happening elsewhere
Water was probably dropped on Earth by asteroids and comets carrying it — and the same seems to be happening elsewhere

Asteroids rich in water are flying around the universe — and could have already kicked off life on other worlds.

Scientists have long thought that the water that is so key to life on Earth arrived on the planet on an asteroid. But new research shows that wasn’t a one-off, and that water could easily be delivered to other planets like our own and help create an environment for life to form.

“Our research has found that, rather than being unique, water-rich asteroids similar to those found in our Solar System appear to be frequent,” said lead researcher Dr. Roberto Raddi, of the University of Warwick’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Group. “Accordingly, many of planets may have contained a volume of water, comparable to that contained in the Earth.”

The researchers conclusions come from studies conducted of a white dwarf planet, using a telescope in the canary islands. The scientists found large amounts of hydrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere of a white dwarf — the dense last state of a star — which seem to indicate that water was carried onto the star by an asteroid.

The asteroid was huge and about the same size of Ceres, a dwarf planet that is the biggest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid is about 95 miles across.

The water found on that asteroid, known as SDSS J1242+5226, is the equivalent of 30-35 per cent of that on Earth, according to the researchers from the University of Warwick.

The relatively huge amount of water is confirmation that other stars have water-rich asteroids and comets around them, scientists said. Since water is thought to be so key to life, at least as we know it, that could mean that living beings could exist in other parts of our universe.

The researchers behind the findings have published them in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in a paper called ‘Likely detection of water-rich asteroid debris in a metal-polluted white dwarf’.

Source: Independent

Independent News Service

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