Large Water Reservoirs at the Dawn of Stellar Birth
ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered enough water vapor to fill Earth’s oceans more than 2000 times over, in a gas and dust cloud that is on the verge of collapsing into a new Sun-like star. Stars form within cold, dark clouds of gas and dust – ‘pre-stellar cores’ – that contain all the ingredients to make solar systems like our own.
Water, essential to life on Earth, has previously been detected outside of our Solar System as gas and ice coated onto tiny dust grains near sites of active star formation, and in proto-planetary discs capable of forming alien planetary systems. The new Herschel observations of a cold pre-stellar core in the constellation of Taurus known as Lynds 1544 are the first detection of water vapor in a molecular cloud on the verge of star formation.