Any chemical element has different isotopes that coincide in the number of protons in the nuclei and in the electrons in the orbits around them, but they differ in the number of neutrons. Some elements only have a stable isotope, while others may have different. Isotopes have the same chemical properties and can be part of the same substances. However, their physical properties are slightly different. In particular, due to the difference in mass of the nuclei, which leads to variations in the spectra of atoms and molecules, scientists can determine the isotopic composition of a substance based on observations.
Astronomers are interested in water, one of the hydrogen atoms in which it is represented by a heavier isotope, deuterium. As a result, one such molecule is about 5% heavier than usual. This difference can significantly influence the process of forming cosmic bodies, so scientists in their works often use the relationship between deuterium and hydrogen (D / H). Modern models of solar system formation predict that there may be an increase in deuterium content in very cold areas of water. According to some calculations, on Saturn, it should occur about 10 times more often than on Earth.
In the new work, American astronomers have studied the bodies in the Saturn system using an improved method by which they measured isotopic ratios in water.
It turned out that almost all the bodies next to this
In addition, astronomers measured the isotopic carbon C13 / C12 ratio. On the Iapet satellite, the relationship turned out to be close to the terrestrial one, and to Phoebe – five times higher. The authors believe that this may indicate that Phoebe has formed much further than it is now. And where she is now, Phoebe has migrated under the influence of gravity. How much more, while it is impossible to say, since at the moment we have no data on the isotopic composition of bodies of objects beyond the orbit of Pluto.