Life on Earth brought a comet?

12.06.2013

 

New research suggests that a comet colliding with the Earth's surface could provide energy for creating simple molecules, which are then instilled life on our planet.


This finding, published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry («Journal of Physical Chemistry A») on June 20 based on a computer model of a similar effect on the crystals comet initially consist of water, carbon dioxide and other simple molecules.

"Comets contain very simple molecules," says study co-author Nir Goldman, physical chemist Lawrence Livermore, California. "When the comet gets, for example, on the surface of the planet, a collision can affect the synthesis of more complex substances than prebiotics, which in turn have the potential origin of life."

Panspermia hypothesis is developed for decades and is based on the assumption that the molecule with the potential for life were brought to Earth by comets or asteroids. But the idea that comets themselves influence the creation of molecules, completely new.

When the Earth was young, permanent drop comets could yield about 22 trillion pounds (about 10 billion pounds) of carbon material on the planet each year, according to Goldman. This could serve as a rich source of building material for life forms. In a separate recent study, researchers conducted an experiment on a mini-comet in the lab to prove that the original molecule may have formed far beyond Earth.

To test their hypothesis, Goldman and his colleagues used a computer model to simulate a single crystal of a comet from hundreds of molecules. Comet — almost "dirty snowball," says Goldman, so the simulated crystal consists mostly of water molecules, but also contains methanol, ammonia, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

The researchers then simulated the effects of ingesting crystal on the surface of the Earth at different angles of incidence up to a glancing blow. They are followed by chemical reactions in the crystal of about 250 picoseconds, which corresponds to the necessary conditions to achieve demonstrable results. Powerful shot that provides the energy for the formation of complex substances. "Every time the impact was strong enough to get a chemical reaction and formed an interesting matter," — says Goldman.

In subsequent studies, Goldman and his colleagues want to test different initial concentrations of chemicals in the comet, to see how they affect the formation processes.

 

S. Vasilenko

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