Logo NPO Radio 1

Did meteors make life possible on Earth or only lightning?

Lightning may have provided an essential component of the origin of life on early Earth. Until now it was often assumed that this component came from meteorites.

It is related to reactive phosphorous, which is an essential component of DNA and RNA genetic material, among others. In early Earth, most of this reactive phosphorus was trapped in insoluble minerals. Therefore it cannot be used for the chemical reactions that lie behind the origin of life.

But there was one exception: the Schreiber mineral site. This mineral is highly reactive and can thus provide phosphorous to organic molecules. The question is: Where does this Schreiber come from? It is often believed to have come from meteorites that strike Earth on a regular basis.

Lightning in the mud

But this new research, Published In Nature Communications, he adds another possible source: lightning strikes. Using spectroscopy techniques, researchers found shripersite in glass minerals formed from lightning strikes in clay-rich soils. Consequently, the early Earth Schreiber site may have had two potential sources: meteorites and lightning strikes.

Then of course you want to know which one is. This cannot be said on the basis of this research. Several meteorites are known to land on Earth in the early days. This began to gradually decline about 4.5 billion years ago, when the moon formed. About a billion years later, about 3.5 billion years ago, the number of lightning strikes and the resulting phosphorous exceeded the number of meteorite strikes.

Since first life likely arose around 3.8 billion years ago, the meteorites and lightning strikes may have provided phosphorous. Maybe both. With some poetic freedom, you could say that life might have celestial and earthly origins.

See also  Van Dissel: Maybe the fourth wave of summer if we relax too quickly

Related:

Five years of primordial soup and lightning in NEMO provide the building blocks of life

It can be tens to hundreds of miles long and is as hot as the surface of the sun: lightning. How did this amazing natural phenomenon arise? NPO knowledge He explains that.

NPO Radio 1 keeps you informed on a daily basis with the latest developments in science

Daily between 5 pm and 6:30 pm News & Associates
Every working day from 2 AM to 4 AM. focus
And when you want a podcast The science of focus

Correction report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *