The carbon-rich water discovered in the ancient meteorite gives clues to the history of the solar system

Researchers have recently discovered coal-rich water in what has been described as ancient meteorites, playing a vital role in early evolution and the formation of the solar system.

A report states that there is a lot of water in the solar system. Even beyond Earth, scientists have found ice on the Moon, in rings and in Saturn’s comets, liquid water on the Red Planet and below the surface of the moon Enceladus from Saturn, and traces of water vapor in Venus’ glowing atmosphere.

To further investigate the role, planetary scientists searched for evidence of liquid water in extraterrestrial materials such as meteorites, which are mostly derived from asteroids formed in the early history of the solar system.

Researchers have even discovered water as hydroxyl and molecules in meteorites in the perspective of hydride minerals, which are basically solid substances in a certain iron and molecular water integrated in them.

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(Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech on Wikimedia Commons)
Comparison of the solar system

Carbon chondritis

Visiting Professor of Research at Ritsumeikan University, Ph.D. Akira Tsuchiyama said that scientists further predict that liquid water should remain as liquid inclusions in minerals “that have precipitated in the aqueous liquid,” or, simply explained, formed from water droplets containing other objects dissolved in them.

Scientists have identified such liquid water contents within salt crystals found within a class of meteorites called ordinary chondrites, which make up the vast majority of all meteorites found on this planet through salt, which actually originates from other, more original parent objects.

Professor Tsuchiyama, along with his colleague, wanted to find out if there were inclusions of liquid water in the form of calcium carbonate also known as calcite within the meteorite class identified as ‘carbon chondrites’, derived from asteroids formed quite early in the solar system’s history.

Therefore, the authors of the study studied samples of a meteorite, Sutter’s Mill, a carbonic chondrite originating from an asteroid formed 4.6 billion years ago.

The findings of a study called “Discovery of a primitive liquid containing CO2 in water-modified carbon chondrite, “led by Prof. Tsuchiyama, was published in the prestigious journal Science Advances.

Carbon-rich water

The study’s authors used advanced approaches to microscopy to investigate fragments of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite and discovered a calcite crystal containing an aqueous portion of nanoscale liquid that has approximately 15 percent carbon dioxide.

The result confirms that calcite crystals in ancient carbon chondrites can certainly contain not only liquid water but also carbon dioxide, resulting in water rich in carbon.

As specified in this report, the existence of liquid water inclusions in Sutter’s Mill has remarkable suggestions regarding the origin of the parent asteroid meteorite, as well as the history of the solar system.

The inclusion may have been due to a parent asteroid created with bits of frozen water and CO2 in it.

This would require the asteroid to form in a part of the solar system cold enough for water and CO2 to freeze, and these conditions would place the information site far outside Earth’s orbit, probably outside even Jupiter’s orbit.

Then the asteroid had to be transported to the interior of the solar system, where the fragments could later collide with this planet.

A basic achievement for planetary science

This theory is consistent with recent theoretical studies of the evolution of the solar system suggesting orbits rich in tiny, volatile molecules like water and CO2 formed outside Jupiter’s orbit before being transported to a place near the Sun.

The most probable cause of the transport of asteroids into the inner solar system would be the gravitational influences of Jupiter, as well as its migration.

To conclude, the discovery of aquatic inclusions within a carbon chondrite meteorite from the early history of the solar system is an essential achievement for planetary science.

Commenting on the discovery, Professor Tsuchiyama proudly remarked, such an achievement shows that their team was able to discover a tiny liquid stuck in a mineral more than four million years ago.

In a similar report, EurekAlert! said that by achieving chemical images of the contents of an ancient meteorite, teamwork can offer important understandings of the processes that operated in the early history of the solar system.

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