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A new experiment could finally help answer the question of how life began on Earth.
Researchers have recreated interstellar icy grains coated with carbon dioxide and water - and found that in the conditions of space, they can produce a key building block of life.
Research - Evidence - Component - Life - Space
They say their research provides 'compelling new evidence' a key component for life was found to be generated in outer space and delivered to Earth in its first one billion years by meteorites or comets.
University of Hawaii at Manoa researchers, in collaboration with colleagues in France and Taiwan, used an ultra-high vacuum chamber cooled down to 5 K (-450°F) in the W.M. Keck Research Laboratory in Astrochemistry at UH Manoa to recreate the icy grains.
Radiation - Form - Electrons - Rays - Space
They found that when exposed to ionizing radiation in the form of high-energy electrons to simulate the cosmic rays in space, multiple phosphorus oxoacids like phosphoric acid and diphosphoric acid were synthesized.
'On Earth, phosphine is lethal to living beings,' said UH Manoa graduate student Andrew Turner, now assistant professor at the University of Pikeville, the paper's lead author.
'But - Medium - Phosphine - Chemistry - Reaction
'But in the interstellar medium, an exotic phosphine chemistry can promote rare chemical reaction pathways to initiate the formation of biorelevant molecules such as oxoacids of phosphorus, which eventually might spark the molecular evolution of life as we know it.'
The phosphorus compounds were then incorporated in biomolecules...
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