Scientists recreated in the laboratory, as ingredients for life could have been formed deep in the ocean 4 billion years ago. The results of the new study give tips on how life on Earth began and where else in space we can find it.
Astrobiologist Laurie Barge and her team at NASA's Reactor Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working to recognize life on other planets, studying sources of life here on Earth. Their research focuses on building blocks of life form in hydrothermal openings at the bottom of the ocean.
To restore hydrothermal ventilation openings in the laboratory, the team made its miniature seabed by filling the beakers with mixtures that imitate the primary ocean of the Earth. These laboratory oceans act as kennels of amino acids, organic compounds that are necessary for life, as we know it. Like the Lego blocks, amino acids are built on each other, forming proteins that make everything alive.
"Understanding how far you can go with organic and minerals just before you have a real cell is very important for understanding what types of life can occur," says Barge, lead researcher. and the first author of a new study published in the journal Works of the National Academy of Sciences . "Also, exploring things like atmosphere, ocean, and minerals in the openings of influence, this can help you understand how likely this has happened to another planet. "
Found around cracks at the bottom of the sea, hydrothermal ventilation openings Places where natural chimneys are formed, produce a liquid that heats up below the earth's crust. When these chimneys interact with seawater around them, they create an environment that is in a constant flow that is necessary in order to life has evolved and changed.This dark, warm environment, fed by chemical energy from Earth, can be the key to how life can be formed on the worlds located further in our solar system, far from the warmth of the sun.
"If we have these hydrothermal ventilation openings on Earth, such reactions can occur on other planets," said Erica Flores, co-author of a new study
Barge and Flores used in their experiments ingredients that are often found in the early ocean of the Earth. They combined water, minerals, and "precursors" of pyruvate and ammonia molecules that are necessary to begin the formation of amino acids. They tested their hypothesis by heating the solution to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) – the same temperature as the hydrothermal aperture, and adjusting the pH to simulate the alkaline medium. They also removed oxygen from the mixture, because, unlike today, the early Earth had very little oxygen in its ocean. The team also used mineral iron hydroxide, or "green rust", which was sufficient on the early Earth.
Green rust reacted with a small amount of oxygen that the team injected into the solution, producing the amino acid alanine and alpha lactate hydroxyacid. Alpha-hydroxy acids are by-products of amino acid reactions, but some scientists have theorized that they can also be combined to form more complex organic molecules that can lead to life.
"We have shown that in geological conditions, like the early Earth, and possibly other planets, we can form amino acids and alpha-hydroxy acids from a simple reaction in the conditions that would exist on the seabed – says The barge is the last few years of research on the origins of life.The past research looked at the right ingredients for life in hydrothermal openings, and how much energy these vents can create (enough to feed the bulb). But this new study is the first time, when her team is watching Alla, as the environment is very similar to a hydrothermal vent, the barge and its team will continue to study these reactions in anticipation of the search for ingredients for the life and the creation of more complex molecules.Step by step, it slowly moves up the chain.