Earth may have had water ‘from the day it was born’

Saturday, November 6, 2010

LONDON - A new study claims that Earth may have had water on its surface right since the day the planet came into being.

The study suggests that Earth’s life-sustaining liquid came from the dust from which the planet was born and not simply from collisions with objects that later crashed into the planet from space.

Simulations by Nora de Leeuw of University College London and colleagues suggest that the dust grains from which Earth formed had such a tenacious grip on water that they could have held onto the molecules despite the high temperatures, reports New Scientist.

Leeuw’s team created computer models of dust grains made of olivine, a common mineral both in our solar system and outer space. The team calculated what happened when water molecules attached themselves to the irregular surfaces of these fluffy grains.

This process releases a lot of energy, which means that a large amount of energy would be needed to detach the molecules.

According to the models, the dust grains should be able to hold onto water at temperatures up to 630 Degrees C - high enough for them to have retained it during Earth’s formation.

“Some of the Earth’s water probably came from this source, and quite possibly most of it,” said co-author Michael Drake of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

However, dust may not have been the only source. Some asteroids are known to be rich in water, and some of these would inevitably have crashed into Earth during the chaotic early days of the solar system.

The study is published in Chemical Communications. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

will not be displayed