Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Young Star's Oceans of Water

Hey Space Placers!

Astronomers for the first time have detected what amounts to oceans of water in a potentially comet forming cloud surrounding a young star.

From the NASA-JPL News Release:

Using data from the Herschel Space Observatory, astronomers have detected for the first time cold water vapor enveloping a dusty disk around a young star. The findings suggest that this disk, which is poised to develop into a solar system, contains great quantities of water, suggesting that water-covered planets like Earth may be common in the universe. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Scientists previously found warm water vapor in planet-forming disks close to a central star. Evidence for vast quantities of water extending out into the cooler, far reaches of disks where comets take shape had not been seen until now. The more water available in disks for icy comets to form, the greater the chances that large amounts eventually will reach new planets through impacts.

"Our observations of this cold vapor indicate enough water exists in the disk to fill thousands of Earth oceans," said astronomer Michiel Hogerheijde of Leiden Observatory in The Netherlands. Hogerheijde is the lead author of a paper describing these findings in the Oct. 21 issue of the journal Science. 

Read More About It:

Sky Guy In VA
Artist's concept illustrates an icy planet-forming disk around a young star called TW Hydrae

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