A recent study provides evidence that gamma-ray reactions can produce amino acids, possibly contributing to life's origin on Earth.
Where did life come from? How did life come into existence on Earth? Is Earth the only planet where life exists? These are some of the questions we are still unable to answer. James Webb Space Telescope photographs of distant galaxies reveal more details about the universe. However, scientists are still at odds over how life on Earth began. But each new research paper takes us a step closer to finding out. For example, a recent study shows that gamma rays can drive internal reactions within meteorites to produce amino acids, the building blocks of life on Earth. So, how did it all begin? A hypothesis contends that meteorites provided amino acids, the building blocks of life, to Earth. Meteorites have streaked through the atmosphere of the newly formed, barren planet of Earth since its very beginning. There is evidence that carbonaceous chondrites could have been part of the original space debris that allowed life to evolve on Earth if they contained significant amounts of water and small molecules as well as amino acids.
A step closer to cracking the secrets of the origin of life
Despite this, it remains a mystery where the amino acids found in meteorites come from. Previous laboratory experiments by scientists Yoko Kebukawa and her colleagues have shown that simple molecules, like ammonia and formaldehyde, can produce amino acids and other macromolecules. However, liquid water and heat must be present in the reaction to make it work. So, where would this heat have come from? A radioactive element known to exist in early carbonaceous chondrites is aluminum-26 (26Al), which decays to emit gamma rays, a highly energetic form of radiation. So, the heat needed to make biomolecules could have been provided by this process. Are scientists a step closer to cracking the secrets of the origin of life? We shall see, but science seems to be on the right track. The study provides evidence that gamma-ray reactions can produce amino acids, possibly contributing to life’s origin on Earth.