Astronomers have made an unprecedented discovery in deep space: a gigantic cloud composed of both ordinary water (the kind we drink on earth) and heavy water.
The disk of material lies about 1.300 light-years away in the constellation Orion, in an area called V883 Orionis first photographed in 2016, but only now deeply analysed.
This discovery is the first in which astronomers have been able to measure the composition of water in a protoplanetary disk. It's an important breakthrough that could help explain the origin of water in our solar system, and especially its transport to Earth via comets.
According to researchers involved in a new study (that I link to you here), measuring the amount of water in a protoplanetary disk will help us fill in the gaps of what happens between the protostar phase and the comets that form from the remnants of planetary formation.
This discovery was made possible thanks to the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA), the large radio telescope located in Chile that has already of other discoveries. His specialty? It is capable of detecting chemical signatures, including those found in protoplanetary disks.
More strings to the bow of astronomers
In conclusion, as mentioned, we are facing a truly remarkable step in understanding the universe and its formation.
Such a set of information (and the prospect of obtaining many more thanks to new tools such as the new James Webb telescope) will help astronomers in their work.
One day we may understand much more, perhaps all about the origin of water on Earth and how it was transported by comets through space.