View Full Version : Water Clouds Tentatively Detected Just 7 Light-Years from Earth

2014-Aug-26, 04:34 PM
by Ken Croswell (http://KenCroswell.com)

Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth—less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the Sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system.

Full story at Science (http://news.sciencemag.org/space/2014/08/water-clouds-tentatively-detected-just-7-light-years-earth ).

2014-Sep-10, 12:59 PM
Oh, those are clouds on an object. Interesting. This reminded me, though, of molecular clouds in the interstellar medium, which can be much more, uh, interesting than water:

Using radio telescopes and detectors sensitive to radiation emitted by molecules, observers "found that 10 to 50 percent of the gas in our galaxy is molecular -- atoms stuck together -- and that it tends to cluster in giant clouds. About 99 percent of this gas is molecular hydrogen... but at least 53 other molecules have been detected, including ethyl alcohol, or vodka. The clouds of gas near the center of our galaxy contain enough vodka to fill more than 10,000 goblets the size of earth." [Heinz Pagels, Perfect Symmetry]

2014-Sep-10, 09:05 PM
That outta motivate the Russians to get there...

2014-Sep-22, 04:17 PM
just passing thoughts..

My understanding was that as supernova debris cool, The most electropositive and electronegative elements begin forming their compounds.
Salts, Oxides, Halides, and of course water, ammonia, Carbon dioxide, Methane etc.
By this criteria, water should be quite common in cold molecular clouds.
In our case, the Oort cloud may be a pointer to this.

Just my thoughts.
I am not an astronomer, but the phrase "recombination temperature" is what made me think so.
A cooling cloud of supernova debris, would see a host of such recombination ranges as it expanded and progressively cooled.

2014-Sep-23, 02:35 PM
Not just supernova ejecta but also the envelope material non-explosively expelled by far-evolved red giants in their dying gasp, leaving planetary nebulae which subsequently dispersed and mixed with the primordial hydrogen clouds.

2014-Sep-23, 07:16 PM
Besides hydrogen and helium, oxygen is the most abundant element, so water is not unusual. But figuring out a way to detect it in exoplanetary atmospheres is why astronomers are wizards.

2014-Sep-25, 10:14 AM
HornBlower... Very true!