Scientists have modeled the formation of amino acids in the interstellar cloud and asteroids

(ORDO NEWS) — The new experiments simulated the cloud from which the solar system formed, and then the conditions that existed on ancient asteroids

As a result, from the simplest and most common substances, a whole set of amines and amino acids, the basic “building blocks of life”, was obtained.

It is believed that the first “bricks of life” were brought to Earth from outer space. Organic molecules, including amines and amino acids, are indeed found in meteorites that fall on our planet today.

Most meteorites are fragments of asteroids, rocky bodies that appeared in the era of the formation of planets.

Theoretically, the first amino acids could be synthesized directly on asteroids, from simpler compounds, under the influence of radiation and other factors of the space environment.

On the other hand, they may be much older, having appeared in the cloud of gas and dust from which the solar system itself was born. To answer this question, scientists from NASA set up experiments.

Danna Qasim and her colleagues obtained a mixture of ices present in interstellar clouds, including solid phases of water, carbon dioxide, ammonia and methanol.

Using a particle accelerator operating at the Goddard Space Flight Center, samples were bombarded with high-energy protons, simulating the effects of cosmic radiation.

This led to the formation of free radicals, which immediately reacted with each other.

The analysis showed that, as a result, simple amines (methylamine, ethylamine) and amino acids (glycine, serine, alanine and beta-alanine) appeared in the mixture.

According to scientists, such molecules, having formed in an interstellar cloud, could later become part of asteroids and continue their chemical evolution.

Therefore, the experiments continued, simulating the conditions that existed on such celestial bodies in the young solar system.

To do this, water was added to the obtained samples and then heated, then cooled them, triggering the “water alteration” processes characteristic of asteroids.

It turned out that this effect has little effect on the composition of amines and amino acids. However, under a certain temperature regime, their number varied greatly.

For example, under certain conditions (when heated to 125 °C), the amount of glycine doubled in just a week of the experiment.

Thus, the time spent by ancient organics on asteroids could not greatly affect the set of these substances, but affected their concentration.

The mixture of organic molecules that resulted from this sequence of experiments, the scientists say, is in better though not perfect agreement with what is found in meteorites.

The results of the experiments serve as new evidence in favor of the version that the formation of amino acids and other “building blocks of life” began in the interstellar cloud, before the appearance of the solar system.

Then these substances found themselves in the composition of its first bodies and evolved along with them. And only then they began to fall on a very young Earth.


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