Water reveals the perfect spot for other Earths
31 May 2007
NewScientist.com news service
Water vapour and hydrogen gas have been found around a young star in exactly the place you'd expect to find Earth-like planets.
Josh Eisner at the University of California, Berkeley, looked at the spectrum of light coming from the protoplanetary disc around a star approximately 500 light years away and found spatially distinct rings of gas, water vapour and dust orbiting the star.
The study is the first to find water vapour in the region where wet Earth-like planets are thought to form. The idea is that water sticks to dust grains, which accumulate to form planetesimals and eventually planets. "This shows the potential importance of that hypothesis," says Eisner. "We're seeing that in fact there is water vapour at the right place."
From issue 2606 of New Scientist magazine, 31 May 2007, page 19
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