Webb Telescope Discover Water in Rare Comet in The Main Asteroid Belt
In a recent breakthrough, the James Webb Space Telescope made another significant observation. Using its near-infrared camera, researchers discovered water vapour around a comet in the main asteroid belt, contradicting previous assumptions about the presence of water ice in comets close to the Sun.
Scientists assumed that comets usually last in the Kuiper Belt or Oort Cloud; both are far enough from the Sun that ice could last.
This finding raises a new puzzle as the telescope did not detect any carbon dioxide in the comet, while normally, CO2 presence represents 10% of the vaporized material in a comet.
Solving this puzzle research group suggests that it may have dissipated over time or that the comet originated from a region in the Solar System with less carbon dioxide.
Read is among the pioneering objects that contributed to identifying main belt comets. The James Webb Space Telescope offers the tools required to conduct in-depth analyses of these comets.
Further investigations are required to determine whether Read’s absence of CO2 is an isolated incident or a characteristic of other main belt comets.
Regardless, Stefanie Milam, a research team member, suggests that a sample collection mission could offer valuable data to understand more about these types of comets.
Such a mission would be more feasible than alternatives, as the Kuiper Belt lies beyond Neptune’s orbit, and the Oort Cloud is approximately two light-years away.