Herschel discovers tip of cosmic iceberg around nearby young star
Using ESA's Herschel Space Observatory to study one of the closest protoplanetary discs to Earth, astronomers have detected cold water vapour for the first time in such an environment. Located in a thin layer at intermediate depths in the disc, the cold vapour hints at a much larger reservoir of water ice hidden deeper in the disc and amounting to several thousand times the mass of water that makes up our planet's oceans. The discovery sheds new light on the presence and role of water in the early formation stages of a planetary system.
Detection of water vapour in the spectrum
of TW Hydrae's protoplanetary disc
© ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Hogerheijde
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