A “strongly matching comet storm, akin to what occurred in the solar system several billion years ago and may have brought water and life sources to Earth, has been discovered in an alien solar system.
A nearby star system called Eta Corvi is going through an Earth-like period of “late heavy bombardment,” during which comets and other icy objects from outer space hit planets in the solar system and created a huge band of dust, a new study by NASA reveals.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered a huge amount of dust around Eta Corvi in the northern sky, suggesting that one or more comets have struck a planet in the star system.
“This is the first time that evidence for such a comet storm has been seen around another star,” NASA said on Wednesday.
The dust around Eta Corvi was found to be chemically composed of the key contents of a giant comet including water ice, organics and rock, said Carey Lisse, senior research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and lead author of the study.
The Late Heavy Bombardment occurred in the solar system at 600 to 800 million years of age, said the researchers. The Eta Corvi system is approximately one billion years old, which astronomers say is about the proper age for such a collision with comets.
The collision between the comets and Earth lasted until 3.8 billion years ago and is believed to have even brought water and carbon that helped form life.
According to NASA, Spitzer’s infrared detectors too indicate that comets may have been raining ice objects and organics on the surface of a planet in the Eta Corvi system.
We think the Eta Corvi system should be studied in detail to learn more about the rain of impacting comets and other objects that may have started life on our own planet, Lisse added.