The James Webb space telescope has captured data that could help us better understand how Earth formed billions of years ago. According to the new data, James Webb has detected water vapor in planet-forming disks, which adds more credence to a long-standing theory on how planets like Earth are formed.
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Webb detected the water vapor in two different compact disks of gas and dust, which surround two different starts – both of which are between two and three million years old. That’s actually pretty young in the grand scheme of our universe’s timeline. The two disks are located within the Taurus star-forming region, which rests roughly 430 light-years away from Earth.
The presence of water in these disks led to the theory that planets are formed by a process known as “pebble-accretion,” whereby small pieces of rock covered with ice encounter friction due to the gas present within the planetary formation disks. The friction causes the rocks to lose their orbital energy and migrate towards each other, eventually forming a planet.
This discovery lends additional support to the idea that the Earth and other planets formed thanks to this pebble accretion, with tiny particles eventually coming together and amazing into the massive planets that we are now busy living on and exploring. The entire process relies heavily on the smaller pebbles joining together to create protoplanets, which then pull even more pebbles and pieces together thanks to their higher gravity.
Getting a keen understanding of how Earth formed, as well as how other worlds formed, has been an astronomical goal for decades, and while we have had multiple theories for how that has happened, including theories on how the Moon formed from a collision between Earth and another planet, we haven’t found much hard evidence until now.
The water vapor that James Webb found in the two disks of the planets is an important smoking gun that could give credence to pebble accretion theory and help us understand other worlds as well. It might also explain if Jupiter ate other planets to become so big.
The post James Webb discovery could help us understand how Earth formed appeared first on BGR.