Sunday, July 14, 2024

The James Webb Space Telescope Discovered Water around a Comet

The James Web Space Telescope has made a surprising discovery. It spotted water around a comet positioned in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. This scientific breakthrough signifies the detection of gas, water vapor in this case, around a comet for the first time. This could mean that water has been conserved as ice in the early solar system in the main asteroid belt.

Michael Kelley documented

Michael Kelley, an astronomer at the University of Maryland, said, “In the past, we’ve seen objects in the main belt with all the characteristics of comets, but only with this precise spectral data from the JWST can we say ‘yes,’ it’s definitely water ice that is creating that effect.” He led this research. Kelley added, With the JWST’s observations of Comet Read, we can now demonstrate that water ice from the early solar system can be preserved in the asteroid belt.”

The discovery around Come 238/Read could boost the theories that water was supplied to planet Earth by comets from space. However, there is a mystery surrounding the latest discovery. Carbon dioxide is missing from 238P/Read as expected by astronomers.

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Kelley said, “Being in the asteroid belt for a long time could do it — carbon dioxide vaporizes more easily than water ice and could percolate out over billions of years,” about the absence of carbon dioxide. Another explanation could be the formation of this comet in such an area of the solar system where this compound was not present.

Stefanie Milam said

Stefanie Milam said, “Our water-soaked world, teeming with life and unique in the universe as far as we know, is something of a mystery — we’re not sure how all this water got here,” She is the Webb Deputy Project Scientist for Planetary Science and co-author of the research. She said further, “Understanding the history of water distribution in the solar system will help us to understand other planetary systems and if they could be on their way to hosting an Earth-like planet.”

It is quite an achievement for the space telescope to observe the comet in great detail. The team would look beyond Comet 238P/Read to discover similar comets having similar compositions.

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Statement by Heidi Hammel

Heidi Hammel said, “These objects in the asteroid belt are small and faint, and with the JWST, we can finally see what is going on with them and draw some conclusions,” She is an astronomer at the Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and co-author of the research. She also said, “Do other main belt comets also lack carbon dioxide? Either way, it will be exciting to find out.”

Further observations with the James Web Space Telescope and other telescopes along with in-situ missions are being discussed. This could help to collect samples from the main belt comets. It is to be noted that the classification of “main belt come” is new. Comet 238P/Read is one of the three objects that aided in establishing this family of comets located closer to Earth.

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Dipanita Bhowmick
Dipanita Bhowmick
Dipanita Bhowmick: I am a content writer with 13+ years of experience in various genres, allowing me to adapt my writing style to diverse topics and audiences. Alongside my passion for creating engaging content, I have a deep interest in esoteric knowledge, constantly exploring the mystical and unconventional realms for inspiration along with spiritual and personal growth.

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