Much of the Earth's water predates the sun and even solar system, a study published Thursday found.
“It’s pretty amazing that a significant fraction of water on Earth predates the sun and the solar system,” said the study's leader, Ilse Cleeves, an astronomer at the University of Michigan, according to the Los Angeles Times.
According to the study, published in the journal Science, approximately 30 to 50 percent of the water molecules present on Earth are older than the 4.6-billion-year-old sun.
Scientists say that the chemical signature of water could only have been created prior to the formation of the solar system and everything within — including planets, moons and asteroids.
"Chemistry tells us that Earth received a contribution of water from some source that was very cold—only tens of degrees above absolute zero, while the sun being substantially hotter has erased this deuterium, or heavy water, fingerprint," professor Ted Bergin said in a news release.
Researchers say the study's findings will have a profound impact on science.
"The implications of these findings are pretty exciting," Cleeves said. "If water formation had been a local process that occurs in individual stellar systems, the amount of water and other important chemical ingredients necessary for the formation of life might vary from system to system. But because some of the chemically rich ices from the molecular cloud are directly inherited, young planetary systems have access to these important ingredients."
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