Researchers Spot Traces of Water in a Traveling Comet

Researchers Spot Traces of Water in a Traveling Comet
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The research for alien life seems almost an impossible quest in the past, but the advance of technology has altered this perception. The presence of water remains an essential trait of life, and many researchers are looking after it in the depths of space. Some researchers continue to remain fascinated by the possible scenario, which led to the appearance of water on Earth.

A team of international researchers has explored the water trace spotted on a comet called 46/Wirtaen, which was observed near our planet.

The researchers employed NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (also known as SOFIA) in an attempt to learn more about the comet, which came close to our planet in December 2018, earning the nickname Christmas comet.

The powerful instrument was able to observe the object which an accuracy that is far greater than the one possess by land-based equivalents.

Researchers Spot Traces of Water in a Traveling Comet

According to one of the most popular theories, the water found on Earth was brought by icy comets which came from the borders of the solar system. As comets travel through space, they tend to collide with some planets. Some researchers believed that comets rich in water and minerals reached our planet during the early stages, bringing at least a part of the 70% which can be found today.

The amount of evidence in favor of this theory was quite limited in the past. The researchers decided to compare the ratio between two types of water, in a bid to learn relevant information.

The water found on Earth features two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. A critical difference between regular water and deuterium (heavy water) comes from the fact that in the case of the former the hydrogen atoms carry one proton and zero neutrons, while hydrogen atoms possessed by the former have one proton and one neutron.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen and other comets featured deuterium to hydrogen ratio which was quite similar to the one found on Earth. Further research is already underway, and the results were published in a peer-reviewed journal.


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