Surprising research published in Nature Astronomy has concluded that our planet's water existed long before our Earth.
What came first, the Chicken or the egg? According to scientists ‘ views, if the question refers to eggs in general, the egg came first.
But how about water and our planet? What came first? The earth or the water?
If your pick is planet before water, then you are wrong.
According to research by CNRS, our planet’s water existed long before our world.
How is this possible, and how did experts come to this conclusion? A meteorite is to thank.
French researchers studied a meteorite that made it possible to trace the isotopic composition of water to the beginning of the solar system, in the interior regions where the Earth and the other terrestrial planets were formed.
Scientists analyzed one of the oldest meteorites in our solar system, using an innovative method developed just for their study.
Their data shows that two gigantic gas reservoirs existed during the first 200,000 years of our solar system.
Our planet’s water existed before our world existed, even before forming the first planetary embryos.
One of these deposits consisted of the solar gas in which all matter in our solar system originated.
Thanks to the meteorite, scientists could measure its record directly for the first time.
Researchers have found that the second gas reservoir was enriched in water vapor and already had the isotopic signature of terrestrial water.
This was created by a massive influx of interstellar water into the hot inner regions of the solar system, following the interstellar envelope’s collapse and the protoplanetary disk’s appearance, which would birth the planets and various cosmic objects of our solar system.
The early existence of this gas with an isotopic composition similar to that of Earth suggests that Earth’s water existed long before the accumulation of our planet’s first building blocks. Hence, the water on Earth was around long before the Earth.
“The initial isotopic composition of water in the Solar System is of paramount importance to understanding the origin of water on planetary bodies but remains unknown, despite numerous studies,” the researchers explained in their paper.
“Here, we use the isotopic composition of hydrogen in calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) from primitive meteorites, the oldest Solar System rocks, to establish the hydrogen isotopic composition of water at the onset of Solar System formation,” scientists added.
Previous research based on mineralogical evidence from zircons maintains that liquid water and Earth’s atmosphere likely existed 4.404 ± 0.008 billion years ago, which puts their accumulation very soon after the formation of our planet.
Previously, and lacking the scientific data we have today, it was thought that our planet was a dry rock when it first formed — and water was a late addition, accumulating after icy asteroids from the outermost regions of our solar system bombarded the planet.
As it turns out, water is abundant in outer space and is made up of hydrogen that was created at the very beginning of our universe — the Big Bang — and the oxygen released from dying stars.
The research detailing the discovery was published in Nature Astronomy.
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