Science 3 min read

Scientists Create Viable Origin of Life Theory Using Supercomputers

Scientists believe they may have furthered the understanding of the origin of life on Earth through new computer models. | Image By SergeyDV |

Scientists believe they may have furthered the understanding of the origin of life on Earth through new computer models. | Image By SergeyDV |

Based on a recent study, our existence is a result of an ancient encounter between the Earth and a Mars-sized object. Along with forming our own planet, the impact also created the moon.

Damanveer Grewal, a planetary scientist at Rice University, teamed up with other researchers to prove the origin of life on Earth.

The paper, published in the journal Science Advances, contains a schematic depicting the formation of a Mars-sized planet.

Graphic showing possible Origin of Life through planetary collision
Illustration of the possible collision that caused the formation of our Earth and Moon. | Image via Science Daily

Aside from the silicate reservoir, the ex-planet held a sulfur-rich metallic core that expelled carbon. As such, the silicates it produced had a high carbon to nitrogen ratio.

Then, the Mars-sized planet collided with our planet to create the moon as well as every other life-form on Earth.

The scientists note that this explains the presence of major life-essential minerals on our planet including carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and, most importantly, water.

Not only was this moon-forming collision the possible origin of life, but it could also account for the geochemical similarities between Earth and the moon.

“Our study shows that the giant impact of a rocky planet was required to deliver the unique composition of life-essential elements to Earth—the only habitable planet that we know of,” said Grewal.

The Experiment

The planetary scientist conducted a series of experiments simulating the high temperature and pressure present during Earth’s core formation to verify this theory.

The researchers considered various possible scenarios in their test. The most notable included asking if the sulfur-rich planetary core might exclude nitrogen or carbon. They also tested how the nitrogen and carbon made it to the core with a varying quantity of sulfur present.

“Our laboratory experiments showed that if the metallic core of a rocky planet is rich in sulfur, then carbon is expelled from the core,” said Grewal.

This proved that if a sulfur-rich object collides with Earth, it leaves a high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio behind.

With the data collected from the experiment, the team ran about a billion potential variations of our planet’s early history. The goal was to find scenarios supporting what we already know about Earth’s origin and its biosphere.

Ultimately, our planet is habitable because two parent bodies merged their unique chemical composition 4.5 billion years ago. Aside from helping us understand the world we live in today, the experiment also raises questions about extraterrestrial life.

Read More: Study Shows One Third of Known Exoplanets are “Water Worlds”

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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