A research from a team, including Conel Alexander from Carnegie Mellon University, came up with the fact that somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of the water of the solar system, predates the sun.
This leads to the concept that exoplanets may form in environments with abundant water.
In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers say the unique chemical combination of the water on Earth and all around the solar system is possible only if some of that water formed before evolution of the planets, moons, comets and asteroids.
“It’s pretty amazing that a significant fraction of water on Earth predates the sun and the solar system,” said study leader Ilsedore Cleeves, an astronomer at the University of Michigan.
Professor Tim Harries, from the University of Exeter, said, ‘We know that water is vital for the evolution of life on Earth, but it was possible that the Earth’s water originated in the specific conditions of the early solar system, and that those circumstances might occur infrequently elsewhere.’
The Earth’s water in every 3,000 molecules constitutes with hydrogen’s isotope, deuterium instead of a hydrogen atom.
Deuterium is twice as heavy as hydrogen as it contains a proton along with a neutron, which is why water molecules made with deuterium atoms (HDO) are known as “heavy water.”
During the birth of our sun, the ratio of deuterium to hydrogen throughout the universe was about 1:100,000. But for water in the solar system, the proportion is significantly higher.
The high deuterium water is formed under specific conditions including very cold environment, ample amount of energy to power the reaction that leads to binding of hydrogen, deuterium and oxygen. Researchers have till now formulated two strong explanations regarding the foundation of heavy water in our solar system.
The first explanation suggests that it came from interstellar water ice that formed in the proto-planetary disc or solar nebula, that gave birth to our sun and the solar system.
The second explanation mentions the violence and energy of star birth that ripped apart that interstellar water. It reframed the building blocks within the protoplanetary disk that would eventually unites into the planets and other heavenly bodies.
Using sophisticated modeling to simulate the proto-planetary disc, they created one without frozen heavy water and found out that the system failed to reach the ratios of deuterium found in the samples of water collected.
“Why this is important? If water in the early Solar System was primarily inherited as ice from interstellar space, then it is likely that similar ices, along with the prebiotic organic matter that they contain, are abundant in most or all protoplanetary disks around forming stars,” said Alexander.
“But if the early Solar System’s water was largely the result of local chemical processing during the Sun’s birth, then it is possible that the abundance of water varies considerably in forming planetary systems, which would obviously have implications for the potential for the emergence of life elsewhere.”
“The implications of these findings are pretty exciting,” added Cleeves. “If water formation had been a local process that occurs in individual stellar systems, the amount of water and other important chemical ingredients necessary for the formation of life might vary from system to system. But because some of the chemically rich ices from the molecular cloud are directly inherited, young planetary systems have access to these important ingredients.”
“People have wondered for a while how much of the water in comets is inherited and how much was made in the proto-planetary nebula,” said Geoff Blake, a professor of cosmochemistry and planetary science at Caltech who was not a part of the study.
According to what the paper indicates is that the young solar wind kept cosmic rays out of the disk entirely, that made the internal chemistry too slow to produce heavy water.
“And if that’s true, much of the water in the solar system today had to be inherited,” said Blake.