What Created Earth's Oceans? Comet Offers New Clue
Kuiper belt comet has water that matches ours, study says.
Planet-formation models indicate that early Earth was much too hot to sustain liquid water on its surface, making the origin of Earth's oceans a mystery.
So scientists speculated that our planet's surface water came from comets that slammed into Earth once the planet had cooled.
This theory was dealt a serious blow in the 1980s, however, due to measurements of the ratio of normal to "semiheavy" molecules—the D/H ratio—in comet water.
In a semiheavy water molecule, one hydrogen atom (H) is replaced with a heftier version called deuterium (D). All water in nature has a D/H ratio, and since deuterium is a very stable atom, this ratio can go unchanged for eons.
Since the 1980s researchers have found that several comets in our