“A significant fraction of Earth’s water is likely incredibly old, so old that it predates the Earth itself. For me, uncovering these kinds of direct links between our daily experience and the galaxy at large is fascinating and puts a wonderful perspective on our place in the universe.” That was the submission of Ilse Cleeves, a Ph.d student in astronomy at the University of Michigan and the lead author of a study investigating the birth of water in Earth and the likely formation of water in other space bodies or planets.

According to the study published in the journal Science, water appears to be formed when new planets within and outside the Milky Way galaxy form, and this might indicate that other planets apart from Earth have some measure of water which might make alien life possible in these planets. It has been proven that water exists on comets, the Martian poles, within craters of Mercury, on Earth’s moon, beneath Europa of Jupiter’s moon, and within Enceladus of Saturn’s satellite. The study aims to investigate the source of these waters, and hence the research.

“Why is this 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. 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.” This was revealed by Conel Alexander, the study co-author, of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.

Furthermore, Ilse Cleeves claims that “the implications of our study are that interstellar water-ice remarkably survived the incredibly violent process of stellar birth to then be incorporated into planetary bodies. If our sun’s formation was typical, interstellar ices, including water, likely survive and are a common ingredient during the formation of all extrasolar systems,” Cleeves added. “This is particularly exciting given the number of confirmed extrasolar planetary systems to date — that they, too, had access to abundant, life-fostering water during their formation.”

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