By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Asteroids make a big splash when they’re carrying water, and may even have been responsible for bringing the life-giving liquid to Earth when it was first forming. Now, for the first time ever, scientists from the University of Cambridge have spotted a watery asteroid over 100 light years from Earth.
Never has one been detected outside of our solar system, and it is a sign that there very well could be habitable (livable) planets out there.
“Asteroids [are] the Legos that go into planets,” says Jay Farihi, the lead author of the study. Basically, thousands of asteroids crash together to eventually create planets.
Although evidence of a water-rich asteroid has been found, it’s in a solar system with a dying star. This means the chances of habitable planets crawling with life nearby it are slim to none.
After all, a delicate balance of warmth is required for a planet to be in the “habitable zone” where it’s just hot enough to sustain life, but not so hot that flames and lava burn the place up.
These cold, hard facts, much like the frosty rockiness of the asteroid, don’t discourage the researchers. In fact, they’re more excited than ever. “I think it’s really awesome that we found the signs of planet pieces that can be building habitable environments for life,” says Farihi. They know the distant star is surrounded by nearby planets and asteroids, and that’s enough to present exciting possibilities! As Farihi explains, “We don’t know anything beyond that, or whether there was once life or once habitable planets, but we do know it had all of the ingredients.”
Image of Earth courtesy of Nikolang on Wikimedia.