The origination of water on the earth has long been a quandary for scientists, but a new research published in the journal Natural Astronomy poses a new theory.
Scientists from the University of Münster in Germany are suggesting from their study that the debris of a Mars-sized body called Theia which has been thought to form the moon also brought water to our planet. The Theia theory is called the “giant impact hypothesis.”
Since our planet is thought to have formed in a dry inner solar system which lacked substance, scientists have long been unable to figure out where the source of water originated.
“The formation of the moon and the origin of Earth's water are two of the fundamental open questions in cosmo-chemistry,” Gerrit Budde, the study’s lead author, told Newsweek. “Unraveling these processes is essential to understand the early evolution of the solar system, the formation of planets and the development of life.”
Scientists have previously surmised from the little they know about the world’s origin that the solar system was split in half for the first million years – that is, if their timeline is correct. When Jupiter formed, it was like a barrier against the exchange of materials between the inner and outer regions. Most of what they know about these matters is speculation, however.
The outer solar system was populated by meteorites containing water-rich “carbonaceous” material. Meanwhile, the inner solar system was filled mostly with non-carbonaceous meteorites that lacked water.
One of the more popular explanations for where the Earth first got water is that the “carbonaceous” bodies from the outer solar system brought large amounts of carbonaceous material to the earth. This explanation is still yet to be proven, however, and scientists haven’t been able to figure out when it could have happened or what the quantities involved may have been.
Scientists have attempted to get to the bottom of this issue by analyzing data on variants of a silvery-white metal called molybdenum which they obtained from a meteorite as well as terrestrial rock samples.
Fortunately, isotopes, which are variants of a chemical element that differ in the number of neutrons, allowing the scientists to clearly distinguish between carbonaceous and non-carbonaceous materials, which has given them slight leeway in discovering the truth.
“By comparing the molybdenum isotope composition of Earth and meteorites, for the first time we were able to constrain the timing and amount of the addition outer solar system material to the Earth, as well as the origin of the moon-forming impactor and Earth's water,” Budde said.
“In short, Earth's water was delivered by water-rich carbonaceous material that derived from the cold outer solar system, probably beyond the orbit of Jupiter,” he said. “This happened relatively late at the end of Earth’s main growth history, and this material was delivered most likely by the giant impactor—Theia—that also caused the formation of the moon.
In turn, this means that the impactor itself originated from the outer solar system—it is generally assumed that Theia originated in the inner solar system near the Earth.”
All in all, it’s clear that there is much more to this issue than meets the eye. With so many things unclear about how our planet came to be, it makes one speculate about the theory of one Designer who planned it all.