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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Polluted Star Hints at Water's Origins on Earth and Alien Planets

Credit: Mark A. Garlick / University of Warwick

Astronomers have spotted a dead star polluted with heavy elements, suggesting that the star recently chowed down on a water-laced asteroid.

The destructive process hints at how asteroids probably delivered water to Earth billions of years ago. But it also hints at how asteroids likely deliver water to exoplanets in other planetary systems.

"Our research has found that, rather than being unique, water-rich asteroids similar to those found in our solar system appear to be frequent," lead researcher Roberto Raddi from the University of Warwick, said in a statement. "Accordingly, many planets may have contained a volume of water, comparable to that contained in the Earth." ...

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