Experts have shown that a molecular component necessary for life may be formed in a comet.
FRANCE – Scientists have successfully developed an experiment demonstrating that ribose, one of the main components of ribonucleic acid (RNA) of living organisms, it can be formed in interstellar frost layers. This reinforces the theory that life on Earth may have come from comets.
Although the existence of ribose in real comets has not yet been confirmed, “this discovery full list of molecular components necessary for life could form the interstellar ice.”
And besides, “supports the theory that comets are the source of organic molecules that made life possible on Earth and perhaps elsewhere in the universe,” said in a statement released by the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) of France.
The theoretical finding, reported by the CNRS, and has been published in the journal “Science”.
The research work involved an “analysis with high detail” that experts from the Institute of Chemistry of Nice (France) have made a simulated comet created by colleagues Space Astrophysics Institute of Paris-Sud University.
The statement also said they suggest the first reasonable assumption for the formation of this key component, which has yet to be discovered in meteorites or cometary ice. So far they have been found in meteorites and comets some amino acids (one of the components of proteins and nitrogenous bases), which form part of nucleic acids.
However, ribose, the other key element of RNA, has never been detected in outer space material or simulated in a laboratory under ‘astrophysical’ conditions.
To create the simulated comet, scientists placed a “representative sample” of water, methanol and ammonia in a vacuum chamber at 200 degrees Celsius, which produced “grains of powder coated ice, raw materials of comets.”
After the material was exposed to ultraviolet rays, just as would have occurred under natural conditions, the sample was then heated as a comet approaching the sun would warm.
Scientists at the Institute of Chemistry of Nice then analyzed its composition, following a very precise method (multi dimensional chromatography combined with mass spectrometry time of flight).
According to CNRS, Various sugar diversities and relative abundance were detected, together with ribose. They suggested that it was formed from formaldehyde, a molecule found in space and in comets produced in large amounts of methanol and water.