Category Archives: Recent News Articles

Earth’s water may have originally been formed deep within its mantle, study shows

A new study led by a team of scientists at UCD shows that a reaction betwen silicon dioxide that is found in quartz crystals and fluid hydrogen at high temperatures and pressure, found in the earth’s upper mantle, can create water. Credit: flickr-jgsgeology Earth’s water may have originally been formed by chemical reactions deep within the planet’s mantle, according to research led by University College Dublin. The new theory offers an alternative explanation as to how the life-giving liquid may have originated on Earth. Previously, scientists have suggested that comets that collided with the planet could have deposited large amounts of ice on the Earth which later melted, forming water. The investigators carried out computer simulations which found that reactions between high-pressure and high-temperature fluid hydrogen and silicon dioxide in quartz, found in Earth’s upper mantle, can form liquid water under the right conditions. The simulations were carried out by.
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Discovery of first binary-binary calls solar system formation into question

Credit: University of Florida   Everything we know about the formation of solar systems might be wrong, says University of Florida astronomy professor Jian Ge and his postdoc, Bo Ma. They’ve discovered the first “binary–binary” – two massive companions around one star in a close binary system, one so-called giant planet and one brown dwarf, or “failed star” The first, called MARVELS-7a, is 12 times the mass of Jupiter, while the second, MARVELS-7b, has 57 times the mass of Jupiter. Astronomers believe that planets in our solar system formed from a collapsed disk-like gaseous cloud, with our largest planet, Jupiter, buffered from smaller planets by the asteroid belt. In the new binary system, HD 87646, the two giant companions are close to the minimum mass for burning deuterium and hydrogen, meaning that they have accumulated far more dust and gas than what a typical collapsed disk-like gaseous cloud can provide..
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Saturn’s bulging core implies moons younger than thought

Saturn’s moon Dione, foreground, appears darker than the moon Tethys because it has a lower surface albedo, as shown in a photograph taken from the Cassini spacecraft on March 23, 2010. At the time, Cassini was about 746,000 miles from Dione and about 1.1 million miles from Tethys. Credit: NASA/Jet Propulsion Lab   Freshly harvested data from NASA’s Cassini mission reveals that Saturn’s bulging core and twisting gravitational forces offer clues to the ages of the planet’s moons. Astronomers now believe that the ringed planet’s moons are younger than previously thought. “All of these Cassini mission measurements are changing our view of the Saturnian system, as it turns our old theories upside down. It takes one good spacecraft to tell us how wrong we were in the past,” said Radwan Tajeddine, Cornell research associate in astronomy and a member of the European-based Encelade (pronounced en-CELL-ad) scientific team that pored over.
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Chemistry says Moon is proto-Earth’s mantle, relocated: the leading hypotheses for the origin of the Moon disproved

Two recent models for the formation of the moon, one that allows exchange through a silicate atmosphere (top), and another that creates a more thoroughly mixed sphere of a supercritical fluid (bottom), lead to different predictions for potassium isotope ratios in lunar and terrestrial rocks (right). Credit: Kun Wang Measurements of an element in Earth and Moon rocks have just disproved the leading hypotheses for the origin of the Moon. Tiny differences in the segregation of the isotopes of potassium between the Moon and Earth were hidden below the detection limits of analytical techniques until recently. But in 2015, Washington University in St. Louis geochemist Kun Wang, then the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative Prize postdoctoral fellow, and Stein Jacobsen, professor of geochemistry at Harvard University, developed a technique for analyzing these isotopes that can hit precisions 10 times better than the best previous method . Wang and Jacobsen now.
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Chemistry of Saturn’s moon Enceladus Matches Earth’s Ocean Origins

….”That’s an important question: while Earth has a lot of water on its surface today, that hasn’t always been the case. After it formed, our planet had a surface of molten rock when any liquid water would boil away; that period of time is known as the Hadean Eon for its hellish character. While Earth’s deep interior has a lot of water in it, that’s mostly trapped in the crystal structure of minerals rather than in giant underground reservoirs, so it’s unlikely the oceans were entirely fed by water bubbling up from below. That leaves another possibility: maybe Earth’s water came from space. After the Hadean Eon, Earth was bombarded by meteoroids (small asteroids) and comets, which might have brought enough water with them to make the oceans. That’s why comets especially look promising: they contain a lot of water ice, while it would take a lot more meteoroids to.
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