Science

Water on Earth is Older than the Sun

Sep 27, 2014

In what can only boost the morale of those waiting for aliens, a new study finds that a portion of earth's water is older than the sun and, therefore, came from other parts of the universe. This finding, reported in the journal Science, certainly raises the question if the same water in other parts of the universe is providing life for other beings on other planets.

At 4.6 billion years old, give or take a year, the sun has widely been accepted as the oldest thing in our solar system, an unsurprising notion given that the solar system is built around the sun and it's gravity. Water and the 'primordal soup' that sparked life on this planet could be interstellar, but no hard proof has been established.

A team from the Carnegie Institute for Science looked at how water could have formed in the solar system. In it's nebula phase, just before it became a star, water could have formed on some of the sun-to-be's outer reaches. If that is the case, then earth's life is probably all "domestic" or entirely from this solar system.

The research involved chemically and mathematically simulating millions of years of evolution in space gas in an attempt to produce the type of deuterium rich water typical in this solar system (not on earth, but in comets). The experiments and models concluded that the solar system, even from it's very early stages over 4.6 billion years ago, could not have produced tose levels of deuterium and, therefore, that water must have come from another part of space introduced into the solar system at an early age.

The implications are important.  "If water in the early Solar System was primarily inherited as ice from interstellar space, then it is likely that similar ices, along with the prebiotic organic matter that they contain, are abundant in most or all protoplanetary disks around forming stars," explained Conel Alexander, co-author of the study.

So, if water and the microbes that evolved into life on earth came from inside this solar system, then the extent to which it occured in another solar system could be radically different or even non-existent, because each solar system is self contained. However, if the water and microbes were dropped here from somewhere else, that means they probably also dropped in other far reaches of the galaxy- and beyond- as well.

That means you could have a cousin in another galaxy.