The picture is the artist’s representation of one of the water-laden asteroids exploded into a cloud of debris due to the cosmic gravitational force of a white dwarf star, GD 61.
The study says the gravitation force of GD 61 is strong enough to imbibe surrounding asteroids and planets that it rips them up into a dusty cloud of rubble. Astronomer Jay Farihi of the University of Cambridge along with his team analysed the cloud’s ingredients using data from the Hubble Space Telescope where they found out elements such as iron, magnesium and oxygen and the presence of oxygen led to the conclusion that it has to be water.
They say that the water and rocky material were part of a large asteroid before GD 61 ripped it to pieces. The existence of water in extrasolar planetary systems is of great interest because it constrains the potential for habitable planets and life.
They also confirm that just a few water-laden asteroids smashing into a rocky planet could fill the entire oceans and lake with enough water.
[Image Source: ScienceNews | Image Credit: MARK A. GARLICK, SPACE-ART.CO.UK, UNIV. OF WARWICK AND UNIV. OF CAMBRIDGE]