French scientists have resolved the centuries-old space mystery of comets showing for the first time that the building blocks of genetic material in living organisms were traceable to icy comets which might have fallen from the skies.
A comet is an icy body in solar system that, when passing close to the Sun, heats up and begins to outgas, displaying a visible atmosphere or coma, and sometimes with a tail. Its evaporation in the sky was due to solar radiation on the nucleus of the comet.
The new finding that comets could be the source of life on Earth was arrived at by scientists at the Institut de Chimie de Nice, University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, in France who created an artificial comet and re-created the first realistic scenario for the formation of nucleic acids, DNA and RNA, whose biological compounds’ origin remained a mystery.
Ribose, one of the two key components of RNA, was never found in comets or extraterrestrial material nor re-created in the laboratory under “astrophysical” conditions. However, scientists in France simulated the formation of dust grains coated with ice and created artificial comets successfully for the first time.
The researchers placed a representative mixture of water (H2O), methanol (CH3OH) and ammonia (NH3) in a high vacuum chamber at minus 200 degrees Celsius to recreate the dust grains coated with ice, and recreated comets. When transferred to room temperature, they formed into comets similar to those approaching the Sun.
“It also lends further support to the theory that comets are the source of the organic molecules that made life possible on Earth, and perhaps elsewhere in the universe,” said the authors in a paper published in the journal Science.
While the existence of ribose in comets is still not confirmed, the new discovery completes the knowledge cycle about the list of the molecular building blocks of life that can be formed in interstellar ice, which in turn give authenticity to the theory that comets are the source of the organic molecules which have made life possible on Earth.[category, science] [tags, artificial comet, comet, Earth, origin of life,life on earth, origin, extra terrestrial life, alien life, source, proof, comet origin of life, life from skies,]