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Where did the building blocks of Earth's first water come from?
At least in part, from a cloud of gas and dust swirling around the sun, new research suggests.
Water - Hydrogen - Atoms - Oxygen - Atom
Water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, and rocky asteroids likely carried most of that hydrogen to Earth billions of years ago. However, the new research suggests that young Earth also received hydrogen from the solar nebula.
"Nearly one out of every 100 water molecules on Earth came from the solar nebula," researchers wrote in the new study, which was published online Oct. 9 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
Earth - Water - Scientists - Chemical - Fingerprints
To find out where Earth's water came from, scientists examined its chemical fingerprints, looking at ratios of hydrogen isotopes — versions of hydrogen with different numbers of neutrons and, therefore, different atomic mass.
The ratio of normal hydrogen and deuterium — a heavier isotope — in ocean water matches the ratio found in water from asteroids, suggesting that Earth's water had asteroid origins. However, hydrogen extracted from the planet's interior, near the region where the mantle meets the core, tells a different tale. Those samples had less deuterium than hydrogen compared with ocean water, pointing to a source other than asteroids, according to the study.
Earth - Shape - Billions - Years - Asteroids
Earth took shape billions of years ago, when smaller asteroids collided and fused into...
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