It may be easiest to deliver materials for life to neighboring planets. Comets can carry many of the key building blocks of life, such as amino acids and other organic compounds, but their ability to deliver those building blocks to a particular planet depends on the configuration of their broader systems. It may depend.
There are several ideas about how the ingredients for life arose on Earth, but the general idea is that a comet hit the Earth and deposited organic molecules here. But comets tend to travel through space at extremely high speeds, and if they hit a planet at more than about 20 kilometers per second, the chances of their important compounds surviving the impact are almost zero.
Richard Anslow Researchers at the University of Cambridge ran a series of simulations to investigate how planetary systems can slow down comets and reduce their impact velocity enough to preserve these compounds. In ideal conditions, a slow impact would leave behind a type of prebiotic soup called a comet pond within the impact crater.
The researchers discovered that there are two types of systems that can slow down the comet by 5 to 10 kilometers per second. One is a system with relatively massive stars, where everything tends to orbit slightly. For planets that are slow and have several planets spaced closely together like peas in a pod, the comet could weave between them and lose speed over time. there is.
“The best planetary systems are on relatively low-mass planets like Earth, around high-mass stars similar to the Sun but perhaps even more massive, and in close proximity to other rocky planets. “It would be in a planetary system that other rocky planets could pass through,” says Anslow, “with comets around.”
He said that if astronomers eventually detect signs of life on other planets, simply examining the overall system configuration could help them understand how it got there. and that it could advance our limited understanding of how life formed. Earth.