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Some water on Earth may have come from the sun: study

TORONTO – A new study suggests that some of Earth’s water may come from a surprising source – the sun.

The origin of water on Earth has long been hotly debated among geologists and astronomers. Water first appeared about 4.5 billion years ago and is essential for all life on Earth. Some scientists think that water-filled comets or asteroids may have hit the Earth, while others believe the water may have originated in the Earth’s interior.

Now, a study led by researchers based in Scotland and Australia suggests that the solar wind interacting with dust particles carried on asteroids may have helped fill Earth’s oceans by water.

The researchers published their findings Monday in the journal Nature Natural Astronomy. They analyzed the dust and water from the asteroid Itokawa using an atom probe, an instrument that allows researchers to create 3D images and measurements of individual atoms, simultaneously found evidence of water originating from the sun.

This new solar wind theory is based on meticulous atom-by-atom analysis of the microscopic debris of an S-type near-Earth asteroid called Itokawa, samples of which were obtained by the Japanese space probe. The Hayabusa copy collected and returned to Earth in 2010, “co-author Phil Bland said in a press release.

The surface of the dust particles at Itokawa “contains enough water, if scaled up, to about 20 liters per cubic meter of rock”.

Bland said that previous theories suggested that water may have been brought to Earth on asteroids, but previous testing of water on these asteroids showed that their “fingerprints” did not match. water found on Earth.

This means there is “at least one other source that hasn’t been counted,” Bland said.

“Our study shows that the solar wind has produced water on the surface of these tiny dust particles, and that water lighter than this isotope can provide the rest of the water on Earth,” he explains.

The findings also mean that there could be water on the moon and other airless worlds throughout the galaxy. That knowledge could help astronauts on future space missions.

“Our study shows that the same space weathering process that produces water on Itokawa is likely to occur on other airless planets, which means that astronauts can handle the supply new water from dust on the surface of a planet, such as the moon,” said lead author Luke Daly in a press release.

“How do astronauts get enough water without carrying supplies, is one of the barriers to future space exploration.”

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