ALMA recounts of cosmic conundrums: What do comets tell us about the origin of Earth?

Published: 21 May 2022

The next talk of the series will be presented by Nicolas Biver (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris), on June 1st at 14:00 CEST, who will address the question: What do comets tell us about the origin of Earth? The talk will be broadcast on theYoutube channel of the European ALMA Regional Centre network.


Title: What do comets tell us about the origin of Earth?

Abstract: Comets are the most preserved remnants of the formation of the Solar system. At the time of birth of the planets, icy bodies provided material to build up the core of the giant planets. Later on they also seeded telluric planets with vast amounts of volatile materials and may have played a major role in supplying water to the young Earth. Following the migration of the giant planets the remaining icy bodies have constituted the two main cometary reservoirs: the Kuiper Belt and the Oort cloud. Among other techniques and in-situ exploration, submillimeter astronomy has been one of the most efficient technique to investigate the chemical and isotopic content of cometary atmospheres for the last 30 years. The abundance of over 25 molecular species and several isotopic ratios (D/H, 12C/13C, 14N/15N, 32S/34S,...) have been measured in comets via submm spectroscopy. ALMA has the potential of vastly increasing our knowledge of the chemical composition of comets (via the detection of a larger number of molecular species, measurements of isotopic ratios, or observations of more outstanding objects like, e.g., interstellar comet 2I/Borisov). Interferometry adds up the spatial resolution that helps to discriminate between molecular species that comes directly from the sublimation of nucleus ices and those created in the cometary atmospheres from degradation of grains or other sources to be characterized. I will show several examples of these recent achievements and the potential of ALMA in providing us with an in depth knowledge of these objects that are often qualified as the Rosetta stone of our Solar system.

The European ALMA Regional Centre (ARC) network has recently launched the new virtual talk series "ALMA recounts of Cosmic Conundrums”.  In every talk of this series the invited speaker will present a major astronomical question and then focus on ALMAs contribution to this question, past and future. The aim of the series is to highlight the unparalleled contribution of ALMA to the broader astronomical landscape and to provide an outlook towards the future.

The schedule is as follows:

Question Speaker

December 1, 2021

14:00 CET

How does dust enrichment around evolved stars work? Leen Decin (KU Leuven)

January 12, 2022

14:00 CET

What is the coupling between molecular clouds, star formation and stellar feedback? Eva Schinnerer (MPIA Heidelberg)

February 2, 2022

14:00 CET

How does the dynamics of galaxies evolve over cosmic time?    Francesca Rizzo (DAWN Kopenhagen)

March 2, 2022

14:00 CET

How are the building blocks of life formed? Izaskun Jiménez-Serra (Centro de Astrobiología)

April 6, 2022

14:00 CEST

What is the role of filaments in star formation and how are they shaped?   
Alvaro Hacar (University of Vienna)

May 4, 2022

14:00 CEST

How and when does planet-formation happen in disks? Davide Fedele (INAF Arcetri)

June 1, 2022

14:00 CEST

What do comets tell us about the origin of Earth? Nicolas Biver (Observatoire Paris-Site de Meudon)

If you have any questions contact the European ARC network through the ALMA helpdesk.