Rendezvous comet and the Earth helped to find a home of her oceans

Рандеву кометы и Земли помогло найти родину ее океанов

The earth was formed in the “warm” part of the protoplanetary disk.

The flying Observatory NASA accurately measured the isotopic composition of water in the “tail” of the comet Virtanen, camisinhas with the Earth in December of last year. These measurements confirmed that these celestial bodies could fill the oceans of our water planet in the distant past, the scientists write in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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“We discovered huge amounts of water similar in isotopic composition to the earth, on the outskirts of the Solar system. Water played a critical role in the development of life, and we wanted to understand not only how she got to Earth, but also how such processes can work on planets around other stars,” says Darek Lis (Darek Lis) from the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA in Pasadena (USA).

Today, scientists believe that the Earth was formed in the “warm” part of the protoplanetary disk, where the molecules of organic matter and water could not exist due to the fact that ultraviolet radiation shone tore water and “blocks of life” into pieces and gave them to connect.

For this reason, scientists believe that water was brought to Earth from the cold of the far outskirts of the Solar system, and organic or occurred at the surface of the planet, or were recorded along with moisture.

The role of these “water carriers” and providers of substances claims the two classes of small celestial bodies — asteroids and comets equally bombardirovschika surface of the young Earth approximately 3.8-3.5 billion years ago.

Over the past year, scientists, the mission Rosetta and ground-based telescopes, have provided ample evidence that comets could take the lead in this race. For example, it was found that on the surface there is alcohol, sugar, and a number of other “building blocks of life”, and the isotopic composition of noble gases in comet 67P was very close to the earth.

Fox and his colleagues discovered another similarity between comets and the Earth, following the recent approach of the comet Virtanen with our planet with this unique SOFIA telescope installed on Board the “Boeing-747”.

This celestial body, like the famous comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, are part of the ongoing “neighbors” inner worlds of our solar system. Unlike most other comets, and the far end of their orbit is not on the outskirts of the Solar system, and in the vicinity of Jupiter. They thus meet with the first four planets every 5-7 years.

A vivid example of such objects Virtanen comet (46P/Wirtanen), near-Earth every 5.4 years. It was accidentally discovered in 1948, the famous American astronomer Carl Virtanen, watching the movement of a few dim stars. Its short orbit and frequent meetings with the Land have often forced scholars to think about sending a mission to this celestial body.

In this case, as noted by Fox and his colleagues, scientists didn’t have to do anything — in mid-December the comet Virtanen went on a very low distance, about 12 million kilometers. This has allowed astronomers to not only get pictures of its nucleus, but also to study in detail the chemical composition of the gas “tail”.

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Scholars interested in one simple thing — how many atoms of light and heavy hydrogen, deuterium, contains water in the bowels of the comet. The fact that the proportion of deuterium in the rocks of the Earth, moon, other planets, asteroids and comets is their a kind of “birth certificate”. It tells what part of the Solar system they were born.

Usually, the less heavy hydrogen contained in the water on a particular celestial body, the closer they must be born to the Sun. If so, then the matter asteroids should contain very little deuterium, and comets — much more of this element.

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