There’s water all around us. It not only makes up the majority of our planet, but also most of our bodies.
So, have you ever stopped to think about where it came from?
Like…the chicken or the egg? The rain or the water?
And what about all of that salty stuff in the ocean?
Hydrogen and helium (and some lithium) took shape in a process called nucleosynthesis, and much later, after those lighter elements underwent fusion inside of stars and during supernovas, they sent waves of heavier elements – like oxygen – out into space.
Now we had hydrogen and oxygen molecules. But that’s not going to automatically turn into water. No, they needed a spark of energy.
The result is water but the process is violent, which is why no scientists have ever been able to replicate it.
In truth, we’re not totally sure how all of this water got here, but there are several proposals. One is that, 4 billion or so years ago, millions of asteroids and comets hit the planet’s surface. What hit, though, weren’t normal rocks but sort of cosmic sponges that released water on impact.
Researchers from the California Institute of Technology aren’t buying it, though, because water that we’ve found in comets since have contained mostly heavy water, which is not what we have in the oceans.
Another theory is that a comet might have come close to Earth in the way back, venting an “ocean-like” water vapor into space.
They witnessed something similar in December of 2018, using the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy and a converted 747.
They spotted a “hyperactive comet” that contained a combination of deuterium and hydrogen found in the Earth’s oceans, and deduced this could have been what caused the to form in the first place.
A third theory is that Earth was bombarded by oxygen and other heavy elements that were produced within the sun. When the oxygen combined with hydrogen and other gases released from Earth, the oceans and atmosphere were formed.
Another theory, out of Japan’s Tokyo Institute of Technology, states that a thick layer of hydrogen may have once covered Earth’s surface, eventually interacting with the oxides in the crust to form our planet’s oceans.
If you ask the computer simulations, they say water could have developed inside the Earth’s mantle and escaped via earthquakes, etc.
So like I said, it’s hard to say.
We’re all incredibly thankful to be alive, though, which we wouldn’t be if water had never made its way here at all.