Exactly how life originated on Earth remains a mystery. A new experiment reveals that an explosion of solar particles may have initiated the processes that created some of the basic building blocks of life.
time in the sun
Long before the first microorganisms existed, there must have been an amino acid thought to have formed in one of the primitive exudates of the early Earth. It was previously thought that lightning may have stimulated the production of amino acids. But Kensei Kobayashi of Yokohama National University in Japan, along with astrophysicist Vladimir Airapetian of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and a team of researchers from both institutions, have discovered another possibility. A superflare on the young Sun probably contributed to the birth of life.
“[Galactic cosmic rays] and [solar energetic particle] Events from the young sun represent the most effective energy source for the prebiotic formation of biologically important organic compounds,” the researchers said in a recently published study. life.
There is no clear answer as to when life began, but scientists believe that the first life forms on Earth debuted sometime during the Hadean period (between 4 and 4.6 billion years ago). It was in his 1953 that Stanley Miller and Harold Urey at the University of Chicago conducted an experiment that suggested that: Thunder The impact on Earth at that time provided the conditions for the chemical reactions that lead to amino acids. At the time, the early Earth’s atmosphere was thought to consist primarily of water, hydrogen, ammonia, and methane. Miller and Urey simulated lightning strikes on these gas molecules in the lab to produce amino acids.
Problems with the lightning hypothesis began to arise when later work showed that the Hadean atmosphere did not contain as much methane and ammonia as Miller and Urey had assumed. Instead there was much more carbon dioxide and molecular nitrogen. These gases must be broken down for the chemical reactions that form amino acids to occur, which lightning cannot break down so easily. That means the amount of amino acids is much less.
high energy chemistry
By studying observations of distant young stars by NASA’s Kepler program, researchers have figured out how the nascent Sun is most likely to behave. It was the Sun throwing a massive tantrum. These blew up the Earth with enough energy to decompose the atmospheric gases present at the time.
The Haddial Sun was young and capricious.It causes superflares and even X-class solar flare Nothing about these phenomena. Superflares occur only once every 100 years or so today, but at that time he would have occurred at least once a week.However previous study Airapetian says our star was 30 percent dimmer during Hadean times, but the frequent superflares were still powerful enough to trigger chemical reactions.
Mr. Kobayashi was investigating the effect galactic cosmic radiationor radiation from outside the solar system may have affected the Earth’s atmosphere billions of years ago.
After reading the study, Kobayashi contacted Eapetian. Together, they used the particle accelerator at Yokohama University to investigate how protons from a solar superflare interacted with the Earth’s atmosphere. Their team simulated both solar radiation and lightning-induced gas particles in a mixture that mirrored the early Earth’s atmosphere. These results were also compared with previous work by Kobayashi, who used a particle accelerator to study reactions induced by galactic cosmic radiation.
The researchers found that firing protons into these gases as close as possible to the clumps of plasma that would have exploded from the young Sun during a superflare could produce more protons. amino acid And one of its components, carboxylic acid, outperforms lightning and galactic cosmic rays.
“We have experimentally demonstrated for the first time that the rate of production of amino acids and carboxylic acids by proton irradiation can greatly exceed the rate of production of these molecules. [galactic cosmic rays] and [lightning]’ said the researchers.
Also, the Hadean Earth was cold because the sun was dark. This means that lightning flashes that were thought to catalyze amino acids were rarer than they are today. The researchers also believe that high-energy particles from the sun may have played a role in the production of amino acids. Mars.before that lost most of the atmosphere, Ancient Mars was warmer, wetter, and had a thicker atmosphere. It is possible that it was at least a temporary haven for life.
We still don’t know what turned chemicals into living things. The sun may not have inspired life on Earth, but life somehow got to its present form from biomolecules that the sun helped create.
Life, 2023. DOIs: 10.3390/Life 13051103
Elizabeth Laine is a writing creature. Her work has been featured in SYFY WIRE, Space.com, Live Science, Grunge, Den of Geek and Forbidden Futures. When she’s not writing, she transforms, paints, and cosplays characters no one has heard of. Follow her on her Twitter @quothravenrayne.