James Webb Space Telescope reveals amazing cosmic water delivery system

James Webb Space Telescope unveils a cosmic surprise - ice-covered pebbles ferrying water to young planets, challenging traditional beliefs about Earth's water source.

| Updated on: Nov 17 2023, 22:26 IST
James Webb Space Telescope
James Webb Space Telescope reveals a cosmic water delivery system that may well have brought the same to earth too. (AP)
James Webb Space Telescope
James Webb Space Telescope reveals a cosmic water delivery system that may well have brought the same to earth too. (AP)

In a cosmic twist, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has unveiled a celestial supply chain involving ice-covered pebbles shuttling water to newly forming planets around young stars. This groundbreaking discovery challenges traditional beliefs about the origin of Earth's water and sheds light on the interconnectedness of solar system regions from its far regions to its very centre.

The JWST's unparalleled vision penetrated the dust and gas surrounding four young stars, exposing protoplanetary disks- dense gas formations encircling nascent stars. Remarkably, the telescope identified an excess of water vapor in the inner regions of two disks, hinting at the presence of icy pebbles ferrying water to developing planets closer to their host stars, according to a Weather.com report.

The observed disparity in water vapor levels among the disks suggests that hydrodynamical forces play a role, trapping icy pebbles in outer rings for some systems. This revelation challenges the notion that inner and outer solar system regions are isolated from each other, reinforcing the plausibility of the ice-covered pebble theory regarding Earth's water origin.

Earth's Water Source

For years, the prevalent belief was that Earth's water arrived via icy comets and asteroids after its formation. However, discrepancies in its makeup and insufficient water quantities in the solar system raised questions. The JWST's findings align with an alternative hypothesis—that water-laden pebbles migrated from the outer solar system, providing a consistent explanation for Earth's water isotopes.

This breakthrough not only promises a conclusive answer to Earth's water source but also holds implications for the search for extraterrestrial life. The discovery suggests that water delivery to planets via this mechanism might be more common than previously thought, increasing the prospects of finding life on distant worlds.

Scientists express confidence that the JWST's recent revelations will contribute significantly to unraveling the mysteries of Earth's water origins, providing a clearer understanding of our cosmic neighborhood.

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First Published Date: 17 Nov, 22:26 IST