Astronomers measured water volume of young star: It is about 4 times more than the Earth's water: Why is this important?

March 1, 2024  22:30

A group of astronomers from the University of Milan has, for the first time, measured the volume and distribution of water in the protoplanetary disk around a young star. The measurements were conducted using the millimeter-wave antenna array ALMA of the Southern European Observatory. This work has allowed us to glimpse what the Solar System looked like 4.5 billion years ago and understand how and from where the water on Earth, as we see it today, may have originated.

There are several hypotheses regarding the appearance of water on Earth, a crucial component for the emergence of biological life on our planet. Water could have appeared along with the formation of the planetary body, or it might have been brought to Earth by asteroids and comets, or both sources may have played a role. The detailed study of the young star HL Tauri, located 450 light-years away, unveils the mystery behind the origin of water on our planet and others in the Universe.

Examining the relatively cold protoplanetary disk around a star, approximately one billion years old and with a mass of about 2.1 solar masses, revealed that within seven astronomical units, there is a significant amount of water vapor, with its temperature gradually decreasing as it moves away from the star. Calculations and measurement data at two wavelengths indicated that there is approximately 3.7 times more water in the region of the protoplanetary disk than in all the Earth's oceans combined.

Furthermore, water vapor was also detected in the gap between two wide regions of the protoplanetary disk (between the rings). Such gaps usually form with the birth of planets, as they clear their orbital paths during the process of forming a future planet.

This research unequivocally indicates that water is initially present in abundance in the protoplanetary disk. It is not an occasional occurrence but a widespread phenomenon, giving hope that in the Universe, there may be more than one Earth-like planet with emerging biological life.

  • Archive