NASA’s Spitzer space telescope has detected signs of icy comets in a distant solar system that resembles our own solar system several billion years ago.

The time period is known as the “Late Heavy Bombardment,” which is thought to be a time where water and other life-forming ingredients were brought to Earth.

"We believe we have direct evidence for an ongoing Late Heavy Bombardment in the nearby star system Eta Corvi, occurring about the same time as in our solar system," said Carey Lisse, senior research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and lead author of a paper detailing the findings.

During this time, several billion years ago, comets and other icy objects flew from the outer solar system striking the inner planets. The bombardment scarred our moon, which in turn produced large amounts of dust.

Spitzer has spotted a band of dust circling around a nearby bright star in the northern sky called Eta Corvi that matches the elements of an expunged giant comet.

“The dust is located close enough to Eta Corvi that Earth-like worlds could exist, suggesting a collision took place between a planet and one or more comets,” NASA states in a release.

The Eta Corvi system is approximately one billion years old, which researchers believe to be the right age for such a hailstorm.

Telescope Reveals Similarities

Astronomers using Spitzer’s infrared detectors to analyze the light coming from the dust around Eta Corvi were able to observe certain chemical fingerprints including water ice, organics, and rock, which indicate a giant comet source.

The light signature emitted by the dust around Eta Corvi resembles the Almahata Sitta meteorite that fell to Earth in fragments across Sudan back in 2008.

Researchers say that the similarities between both the meteorite and the object obliterated in Eta Corvi, “imply a common birthplace in their respective solar systems.”

A bright ring of colder dust located at the far edge of the Eta Corvi system, discovered in 2005, looms at 150 times the distance from Eta Corvi, as the Earth is from the sun, with a similar region in our own solar system known as the Kuiper Belt, where icy and rocky leftovers from planet formation linger.

According to new Spitzer data, the Almahata Sitta meteorite may have originated in our own Kuiper Belt.

Home to a vastly greater number of frozen bodies, the Kuiper Belt, about 14 billion years ago, some 600 million years after our solar system formed, is thought to have been disturbed by a migration of the gas-giant planets Jupiter and Saturn.

NASA says the jarring shift in the solar systems’ gravitational balance “scattered the icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt, flinging the vast majority into interstellar space and producing cold dust in the belt. Some Kuiper Belt objects, however, were set on paths that crossed the orbits of the inner planets,” resulting in a bombardment of comets lasting until 3.8 billion years ago.

Comets then impacted the side of the moon that faces earth causing it to scar, which resulted in magma seeping out of the lunar crust, eventually cooling into dark “seas,” also known as maria.

Those seas form the distinctive “Man in the Moon” image, when viewed against the lighter areas of the moon’s surface.

Comets striking Earth are thought to have deposited water and carbon on our planet, which may have helped in the formation of life on the planet.

"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 said.