Webb Telescope Found Water Vapor Near Young Star

Astronomers have recently stumbled upon a cosmic discovery that has invigorated hopes of identifying celestial bodies capable of sustaining life.

by Faruk Imamovic
SHARE
Webb Telescope Found Water Vapor Near Young Star

Astronomers have recently stumbled upon a cosmic discovery that has invigorated hopes of identifying celestial bodies capable of sustaining life. Scientists have detected water vapor swirling around PDS 70, a nearby star located 370 light-years away from us, signifying that the planets in its orbit may potentially harbor life.

An Uncommon Discovery in PDS 70

The young planetary system, known as PDS 70, is being carefully scrutinized by astronomers worldwide. The star at its core is approximately 5.4 million years old, a relatively older age for a star hosting a planet-forming disk.

This star, interestingly enough, is cooler than our sun. Lead study author Giulia Perotti, a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, noted that detecting water in such a location was a rarity, especially in a system where planets are actively forming.

She shared, “We’ve seen water in other disks, but not so close in and in a system where planets are currently assembling. We couldn’t make this type of measurement before Webb”. Despite the star's age, the discovery of water vapor near it surprised astronomers.

The usual absence of such a feature in similarly aged stars heightened the interest of scientists in this exceptional celestial configuration.

Probing the Building Blocks of Life

The detection of water vapor, coupled with a relatively high amount of small dust grains, adds to the unique characteristics of the inner disk of this planetary system.

According to Rens Waters, study coauthor and professor of astrophysics at Radboud University in the Netherlands, these findings have made the inner disk an "exciting place." In the quest to find Earth-like planets, this discovery offers a valuable chance to probe the regions where rocky planets typically form.

Thomas Henning, study coauthor and director of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, reflected the excitement surrounding the discovery, stating, “This discovery is extremely exciting, as it probes the region where rocky planets similar to Earth typically form”.

PDS 70 is shaping up to be an intriguing area of focus in the quest for extraterrestrial life. The discovery of water vapor near this star sparks hope and speculation alike, reminding us of the unexplored cosmic wonders that lie far beyond our gaze.

SHARE