Astronomers have detected water vapor while observing a rare comet in the solar system with .
It’s the first time Water vapor detected around a comet located in center of the orbits of Mars and Jupiter around the Sun. This discovery comes after 15 years of effort by astronomers who have observed rare comets with different observation methods.
An illustration showing ice evaporating into gas from comet 238P/Read
This illustration shows the ice evaporating into gas from comet 238P/Read as it approaches the Sun. (Photo: ASA/ESA).
A detailed review of the results was published May 15 in the journal Nature Nature.
Comets often exist in clouds and Oort clouds, icy regions outside of Neptune’s orbit, where they are cold enough to retain some of the leftover material from the formation of the solar system.
But a rare subclass of comets called belt comets are asteroid belt objects that orbit the Sun. Instead of releasing icy matter by sublimation (a solid that turns into a gas) like regular comets do, main-belt comets seem to simply eject dust.
Given their location closer to the Sun than regular comets, main-belt comets are unlikely to store much ice.
SO, discovery of water vapor around main-belt comets could add more evidence to the theory of how water appeared on Earth. Water-rich comets and asteroids may have collided with early Earth and brought water to our planet.
James Webb Space Telescope captures image of comet 238P/Read
The James Webb Space Telescope captured this image of Comet 238P/Read with its NIRCɑm instrument on September 8, 2022. (Photo: ASA/ESA/CSA/M. Kelley/H. Hsieh/A. Ƥagan).
Main-belt comets were first discovered by study co-author Henri Hsieh, a principal investigator at the Institute of Planetary Sciences in Tucson, Arizona, in 2006. Comet Read, where the water vapor was discovered, was originally just a subsection of the study.
Precise data collected by the James Webb Telescope’s near-infrared spectrometer helped astronomers identify signs of water vapor around Comet Read shortly after it approached the Sun.
Michael Kelley, astronomer and principal investigator at the University of Maryland at College Park, said: “With James Webb’s observations of Comet Read, we can now demonstrate that the frozen water of the early solar system can be preserved in the asteroid belt.”
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Astronomers have detected water vapor while observing a rare comet in the solar system by . This is the first time that water vapor has been detected around…