In a new study published this week, scientists have found convincing evidence that the essential elements of life have been deposited on Earth after it collided with the proto-planet that carved the moon.
Early Earth in need of some basic ingredients
In the cosmic pinball arcade, which was the early solar system, the protoplanets of the inner solar system absorbed the effects of planets and asteroids for several billion years to accumulate and form the four rocks around the Sun.
Of these four, the Earth is the only one known to have developed its life, and the chemical composition of the planet is even more important than its distance from the Sun.
The essential elements that make life on Earth possible are not relatives of the Earth. Known as volatile, these elements are known for alien origin. "From the exploration of primitive meteorites, scientists have long known that Earth and other rocky planets in the inner solar system are exhausted," said Rajpep Dasgupta, professor of earth, ecology and planetary science at Rice University and co-author of the study.
"But the time and mechanism of unstable supplies are hotly debated." "It is our first scenario that can explain time and delivery in a way that is consistent with all geochemical evidence."
Carbon, nitrogen and sulfur: the elementary spice of life
Graduate student and lead author of the study, Damanveer Grewal, gathered evidence at the Dasgupta Laboratory, which focuses on studying the geochemical reactions taking place in the nucleus of the planet, an environment of unattainable pressure and warmth.
Graual focuses on testing the theory that the protoplanet with a sulfur-rich core sprayed in the primary Earth could contribute to the essential ingredients for life that Earth was not. The sulfur-rich kernel is important because of the puzzling evidence found in the carbon, nitrogen and sulfur ratios of Earth's non-Earth-like material, known as Earth's silicate mass.
The idea that less material left from the outside of the Solar System has affected the Earth and deposited these elements has long been the best theory anyone has ever had of how these elements have found their way to the Earth.
The problem with this theory is that while these objects, called carbon chondrites, contain these elements, their ratios do not coincide with what is found in bulk silicate land. There is almost twice as much carbon if these elements come from these objects.
However, the protoplanet with a sulfur-rich core was a different story.
Creating an Early Planetary Core with Science!
Grewal decided to check if the solid sulfur core would effectively hold carbon and nitrogen from the planet's core, producing a much higher carbon content in the bulk silicate material on the planet.
His experiments showed that at different levels of sulfuric concentration, the nitrogen was squeezed only from the core and the bulk silicate at the highest concentrations of the sulfur tested. Carbon, on the other hand, will concentrate in bulk silicate when the planet has an average amount of sulfur in its core.
Using these results, Dasgupta, Grewal, and Chenguang Sun – a post-graduate student at Rice – have created a computer simulation modeling the chaos of the early solar system and carrying it about a billion times. They then looked at the results to see what the chemical proportions of the bulk silicate on Earth might have caused.
The main candidate would be a Mars-sized proto-planet with a sulfur-rich core located in the Earth 4.4 billion Years ago the moon was cut from the early Earth with a huge planetary impact.
"This study shows that a rocky Earth-like planet has more chances to acquire essential elements if it is formed and grows from giant strikes with planets that have taken samples from different blocks, perhaps from different parts of the protoplanet disk" , says Dasgupta. ,
He added, "This removes some boundary conditions, indicating that vital volatile substances can reach the surface layers of the planet, even if they are produced on planetary bodies that have undergone nucleation under very different conditions."