Water found - in outer space

2014-01-27 08:05
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The building blocks for life may be more common in space than previously thought as scientists have discovered water hidden within stardust.

According to a report on the NewScientist website, scientists discovered that the interstellar dust hid small pockets of water.

During chemical reactions in the lab, the radiation resulted in the formation of water, but the process had never been observed naturally occurring.

In space, the dust particles are zapped by the star's wind - highly charged particles - and the resultant reaction causes water to form.

Given that all planets are exposed to the interstellar dust, it could suggest that the building blocks for life could be present on many planets.

As for the formation of oceans on Earth though, it is unlikely that the water-laden dust could be responsible, said researcher Hope Ishii of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

Life catalyst

It is thought that the oceans on Earth were formed by multiple icy comet impacts.

However, the fact that the dust also contains carbon means that, combined with water, it could be a catalyst for life on Earth and other planets where ideal conditions exist.

The idea that the buildings blocks for life came from space is not new, but there has not been a great deal of evidence to support the theory of panspermia.

But the fact that life began quickly after the formation of the Earth has long puzzled scientists, and some have turned to space as a means of explaining where the building blocks of life originated.

"My personal opinion is that since space is so rich in these organic compounds, it must have played a role," said Dr Stephen J Mojzsis of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

"I don't think it's unreasonable to invoke the space medium as a source area for the raw materials to get life started because after all, space is close," he added.
This YouTube video animation attempts to explain how panspermia might work.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    space  |  astronomy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Woodcock's career ended by injury
Major Payne as Ireland lose star centre
LIVE: Samoa 26 Scotland 29
Jones: Japan can be 'team of the tournament'
Traffic Alerts

The phrase for today is:”Out of the blue.” Expect the unexpected and work with the changeable energy. Your intuition is heightened...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.