Webb Telescope in First-Ever Detects Water in Planet-Forming Region

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Webb Telescope in First-Ever Detects Water in Planet-Forming Region
Webb Telescope in First-Ever Detects Water in Planet-Forming Region

Africa-Press – Lesotho. Earlier, the PDS 70 system – a young star in the constellation Centaurus – was reported to be hosting two planets that share the same orbit some 370 light-years from Earth. Officials speculated the possibility after a debris cloud was detected in the same orbit as PDS 70b.

In a stunning discovery, scientists using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have documented a cosmic first after detecting water in the inner region of a planetary disk surrounding the young star PDS 70.

The observations, made by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA)-driven MINDS research collaboration, mark the first detection of water in a planet-forming region that hosts multiple planets. Additionally, the find offers new insights into the possibility of habitability on rocky planets forming in this zone.

The presence of water in the inner disk of PDS 70 indicates the potential for a substantial local water reservoir, which greatly improves the chances of habitability for any rocky planets that may form within the site.

Having suggested water could serve as an initial ingredient of rocky planets and that it may be available at birth, the groundbreaking find challenges previous theories that water is primarily supplied by water-bearing asteroids bombarding a young planet’s surface.

The water was discovered near the disk center, close to the host star PDS 70, which is the region where rocky planets similar to Earth typically form.

The water was found in the form of hot vapor, with a temperature of approximately 330 degrees Celsius. While no planets have been detected near the PDS 70 disk center, two gas-giant planets, PDS 70 b and c, were found farther out.

These planets likely accumulated surrounding dust and gas during their growth, creating an annular gap with minimal detectable material. The detection of water in the inner disk of PDS 70 opens up new possibilities for understanding the origin and availability of water on rocky exoplanets.

Further research and observation will be conducted to explore the potential habitability of these planets and the mechanisms involved in their formation.

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