Water, Water Everywhere

Why is there so much water on and around our planet, and where did it come from?

One idea is that it originated from ice specks floating in a cosmic cloud more than 4.6 billion years ago. Such interstellar water is millions of years older than the solar system itself. This water survived the solar system’s chaotic creation and came to Earth.

16TB-water-articleLarge.jpg

(Bill Saxton, NSF National Radio Astronomy Observatory)

Much of the heavy water formed in the interstellar cloud and then traveled across the solar system.

About one atom in 6420 of hydrogen has a neutron and is called deuterium. It accounts for approximately 0.0156% of all the naturally occurring hydrogen in the oceans. The more common isotope (hydrogen-1 or protium) accounts for more than 99.98%.

Deuterium-rich water is found on other planets and moons, even here on Earth, but researchers are not sure where it came from.

A recently constructed computer model shows how such old ice molecules could have survived the sun’s violent radiation blasts, and gone on to the present planet Earth and its neighbours.

art-van_water710.jpgart-van_water7.jpg

Water is strongly associated with this sculpture called Barbora, by the American artist Vladas Vildžiūnas, presently found in Thornton Park, Vancouver.  The original concept was a lady walking in a park in solitude with breezes adding movement to her garments. Others see it as the movement of water in similar free space.