Most water in the universe comes from superheated geysers erupting on young stars

A proto-star has been observed shooting water from its poles out into space. It may continue to do so for over a thousand years. Scientists think that this process may account for much of the free-floating water in the universe.

A new star is slowly condensing over in the Perseus constellation. L1448-MM is surrounded by a disk of loose materials. These materials orbit around the star, and slowly getting sucked in. The proto-star builds up its mass, and finally gravity collapses it in enough so that the atoms at the center of the star fuse together, heating it up and making it shine. But not all the material that gets sucked into the star stays there. Some gets shot out of jets that form at either pole of the rotating star.

Scientists don't know the exact mechanism of those jets of material, but they've observed them for years. The material on L1448-MM, however, they managed to observe via infrared. What they found was water. Technically, it doesn't start out as water. The material is traveling at 80 times the speed of the bullets of on AK-47, and it's heated to 180,000 degrees, so as it leaves the star itself, it's just hydrogen and oxygen. Once it gets far enough away to cool down, however, it condenses into water. Lots of water. A hundred million times the water in the Amazon river. Stars don't do anything small.

Most water in the universe comes from superheated geysers erupting on young stars


And the AK-47 comparison is apt. The star isn't shooting a continuous spray. It's sending out pulses of material. When each pulse ends, it slows. When it slows, it gets rammed from behind by the next pulse. The first pulse forms what's called a bow wave - the spreading wave that precedes a bullet or the bow of a ship. As the wave travels out, it spreads. Scientists believe that all forming stars give off this water, and that this process might be responsible for sprinkling the entire universe with water.

Images: Nasa
Via Physics Central.