TORONTO – A new study suggests that a portion of Earth’s water may have come from a surprising source – the Sun.

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The origin of water on Earth has been hotly debated for a long time among geologists and astronomers. Water first appeared about 4.5 billion years ago and is essential for all life on Earth. Some scientists have suggested that water-laden comets or asteroids may have hit Earth, while others believe that water may have originated inside the Earth.

Now, a study led by researchers based in Scotland and Australia says that solar winds interacting with dust particles carried on asteroids may have helped fill Earth’s oceans with water.

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researcher published its findings on Monday in the magazine nature astronomy, They analyzed dust and water from the asteroid Itokawa using the Nuclear Probe, an instrument that allows researchers to make 3D imaging and measurements of individual atoms, and found evidence of solar-derived water.

“This new solar wind theory is based on a microscopic atom-by-atom analysis of microscopic fragments of an S-type near-Earth asteroid, known as Itokawa, whose samples were collected by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa. and returned to Earth in 2010,” co-author Phil Bland said in a news release.

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The surface of Itokawa’s dust grains contained “enough water, which, if increased, would be about 20 liters for every cubic meter of rock.”

Bland says that previous hypotheses have suggested that water may have been carried to Earth on asteroids, but previous tests of water on these asteroids found that their “fingerprints” did not match the water found on Earth. accounts.

That meant there was “at least one other unaccounted source,” Bland said.

“Our research shows that the solar wind created water on the surface of tiny dust grains and that this isotopically lighter water probably provided the rest of Earth’s water,” he explained.

These findings could also mean that there could be water on the Moon and other airless worlds throughout the Milky Way. This knowledge could help astronauts in future space missions.

“Our research suggests that the same space weathering process that creates water on Itokawa is likely to occur on other airless planets, meaning that astronauts may be able to process a fresh supply of water directly from dust on a planet’s surface. Maybe, such as the Moon,” lead author Luke Daly said in a news release.

“How to get enough water without supplying astronauts is one of the obstacles to future space exploration.”