Water Found in Stardust Could Mean a Universe Seeded With Life

Image: NASA

Image: NASA

Score one for those who “want to believe” in extraterrestrial life, a la FBI Agent Fox Mulder of TV classic “The X-Files.” A cosmic rain of interstellar dust could be seeding planets across the universe with the building blocks of life as we know it — water and carbon. For the first time, a study has found water inside actual stardust, in addition to organic elements like carbon, according to a report in New Scientist.

“The implications are potentially huge,” says Hope Ishii of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, one of the researchers behind the study, in a quote from the article. “It is a particularly thrilling possibility that this influx of dust on the surfaces of solar system bodies has acted as a continuous rainfall of little reaction vessels containing both the water and organics needed for the eventual origin of life.”

Ultra-high-resolution microscopy allowed researchers to detect tiny pockets of water trapped beneath the surface of dust particles. Lab experiments have suggested how the water gets there. The dust, oxygen-rich from silicates, collides in space with a solar wind made in part of hydrogen ions. In the collision, hydrogen and oxygen combine and make water. In theory, anywhere there is a star (e.g., the sun), this can happen.

Read more:

Water found in stardust suggests life is universalNew Scientist

How much of the human body is made up of stardust? – Physics Central

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