Saturday, October 22, 2011

Huge 'disc' of ice in space gives clue to origin of our oceans - and hints there may be other Earths - 21st Oct 2011

The Herschel Space Observatory has captured for the first time a huge 'disc' of icy vapour clustered round a young star as it develops into a solar system.

The water round the star stretches far out into the 'edge' of its system. The water is likely to form into icy comets, which would crash into young worlds, bringing oceans with them.

The find suggests that water-covered planets such as Earth may be common.

‘Our observations of this cold vapor indicate enough water exists in the disk to fill thousands of Earth oceans,’ said astronomer Michiel Hogerheijde of Leiden Observatory in The Netherlands. Hogerheijde is the lead author of a paper in the journal Science.

Previous watery discs round stars were smaller and closer in - and don't stretch out to the regions where comets form. Read More