Earth received cosmic delivery of water in its early days when it was a fireball. This was the source


Long before human civilisation existed on our planet, Earth was just a dry fireball with no water on it and appeared very similar to other exoplanets.

So how, did this burning and hellish planet get water bodies and become a hospitable place for human civilisation? 

The researchers, while studying certain meteorite classes, found the source which led to the existence of water-rich cosmic bodies in the primordial solar system.

The scientists identified mini astronomical structures, which are also known as planetesimals, as agents which made the cosmic delivery of water.

The planetesimals brought materials for planet construction, which included our Earth, which had very little water to start with.

Explaining these cosmic bodies, Director of the Klaus Tschira Laboratory for Cosmochemistry at Heidelberg University’s Institute of Earth Sciences Professor Dr. Mario Trieloff said, “These small bodies did not just supply the building materials for the planets. They are, in reality, the very source of Earth’s water.” 

These planetesimals remained at cooler temperatures in the outer solar system. In this place, ice remained as solid-state water.

These planetesimals were starkly different from other celestial bodies which were formed earlier in the history of the solar system. Those bodies were too hot and very close to the Sun, which made it impossible to create ice. 

These bodies, which were formed at an early stage in the universe, faced intense thermal conditions which prevented the accumulation or retention of volatile substances like water.

How was the research carried out?

The international research team, which included distinguished earth scientists from Heidelberg University, meticulously analysed age data and used sophisticated computational models, to trace the thermal evolution of these planetesimals’ parent bodies.

Throughout their research, they carried out the examination of isotopic compositions and conducted simulations to understand the material composition and heat dynamics of these early solar system objects.

Watch: Scientists say the Earth’s core is behaving oddly. Here’s why

In the research, the team found that some planetesimals formed extremely rapidly in a time span of less than two million years. 

The bodies faced intense heating which melted completely and they lost all their volatile elements, which included water.

Short-lived radioactive isotopes, that release substantial amounts of heat, started decaying which led to rapid heating.

Meanwhile, in the study, it was found that a second group of planetesimals was formed later at cooler temperatures in the outer reaches of the solar system.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Prisha

Prisha is a digital journalist at WION and she majorly covers international politics. She loves to dive into features and explore different cultures and histories

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