In perhaps one of the most important scientific findings of all-time, astronomers have discovered a young star that is blasting massive amounts of water — yes, water — into space, reports National Geographic. The discovery may have unlocked the mystery of how H2O, the key to life, gained such a prevalent presence on planet Earth, and could have implications beyond our greatest imaginations.
Located about 750 light years form Earth, the “sunlike star” is reportedly blasting “epic quantities” of water, with droplets of water flowing literally faster than a speeding bullet.
“If we picture these jets as giant hoses and the water droplets as bullets, the amount shooting out equals a hundred million times the water flowing through the Amazon River every second,” said acclaimed astronomer Lars Kristensen, the study’s lead author, in an interview with National Geographic.
“We are talking about velocities reaching 200,000 kilometers [124,000 miles] per hour, which is about 80 times faster than bullets flying out of a machine gun.”
With the help of infrared imagine equipment aboard the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, the study’s research team was able to see signs of hydrogen and oxygen atoms bonding on the new star to form water. That water is then super-heated to about 180,000 degrees Fahrenheit, turned into gas, and rocket outwards to the much cooler surrounding space, where it condenses to reform into water.
Scientists believe that the phenomenon seen in this one star is likely a process through which all stars go during their infancy. This includes our own sun, which is likely responsible for all the water on Earth.
“We are only now beginning to understand that sunlike stars probably all undergo a very energetic phase when they are young,” said Kristensen. “It’s at this point in their lives when they spew out a lot of high-velocity material—part of which we now know is water.”
If stars really do create water during their own formation, as the study shows they do, it will have astounding impacts for the study of space and the entire history of life on our planet. It would mean that space is actually full of water, and possibly water-covered planets like ours, suggesting that other habitable worlds exist, and may contain life. It could also clue us into how life formed on our planet in the first place.