Flaming meteorites from the outer solar system gave rise to life on Earth 4.6 billion years ago
Big fireballs! Flaming meteorites from the outer solar system gave rise to life on Earth 4.6 billion years ago
Great balls of fire from the outer reaches of the solar system brought the building blocks of life to Earth 4.6 billion years ago, a new study reveals.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Imperial College London discovered that these ancient meteorites contained carbonaceous chondrite, which consisted of potassium and zinc.
Potassium helps produce a cell’s fluids, while zinc is vital in making DNA.
The team found that these space rocks made up 10 percent of the space rocks that impacted the planet during its birth.
The other 90 percent came from the non-carbonaceous (NC) material of the inner solar system.
Life on Earth was caused by fireballs colliding with the newly born planet 4.6 billion years ago
“Our studies complement each other’s results in multiple ways and confirm each other’s results,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Nicole Nie, told SWS.
“Of the moderately volatile elements, potassium is the least volatile, while zinc is one of the most volatile.”
The meteorites provided 20 percent of Earth’s potassium and half of the zinc.
Both are considered volatile substances, which are elements or compounds that change from a solid or liquid state to vapor at relatively low temperatures.
Senior author Professor Mark Rehkämper, from Imperial College London’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, said in a pronunciationOur data shows that about half of Earth’s zinc supply was supplied by material from the outer solar system, beyond Jupiter’s orbit.
“Based on current models of early solar system development, this was completely unexpected.”
Previous research suggested that Earth formed almost exclusively from material in the solar system’s interior, which researchers concluded was the main source of Earth’s volatile chemicals.
However, the new study provides the first evidence that Earth formed in part from carbonaceous meteorites from asteroids in the outer main belt.
“This contribution of material from the outer solar system played a critical role in establishing Earth’s inventory of volatile chemicals,” Rehkämper said.
“It appears that without the contribution of the material from the outer solar system, Earth would have far fewer volatiles than we know today, making it drier and possibly unable to feed and sustain life.” .’
The team analyzed 18 meteorites,11 came from the inner region and the rest came from the outer regions.
The meteorites contain potassium and zinc and came from the outer regions of the solar system
And then, she measured the relative amounts of the five different forms of zinc – or isotopes.
They then compared each isotopic fingerprint with Earth samples to estimate how much these materials contributed to Earth’s zinc supply, showing that Earth absorbed only about ten percent of its mass from carbonaceous bodies.
The researchers found that material with a high concentration of zinc and other volatiles is also likely to be relatively abundant in water, providing clues to the origin of Earth’s water.
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