Meteorites may have seeded life

Scientists have discovered new evidence that life may have been seeded on Earth from the depths of space. They found carbon bubbles trapped within a meteorite that crashed to the ground in Canada in the year 2000.

It is thought similar material could have provided the raw organic chemicals which helped the first organisms to flourish on our planet.

Extensive analysis has proved that the tiny globules are not the result of any contamination on earth. Instead they formed in temperatures close to absolute zero and must therefore have been created in space.

The meteorite – called a carbonaceous chondrite – could be the oldest rock found on Earth. Chunks of it, with a consistency similar to barbecue bricks, were found soon after it was seen blazing across the sky to the frozen surface of Tagish Lake in British Columbia.

They have been analysed at Nasa’s Johnson Space Center at Houston, Texas, by scientists led by Keiko Nakamura-Messenger.

The team says the bubbles in the meteorite are likely to be be even older than the Sun. That is because the rock’s chemistry shows evidence of the extreme cold that existed in the cloud of gas from which our solar system formed, billions of years ago.

The image shows a chunk of the meteorite being examined by Christopher Herd, Curator of the University of Alberta Meteorite Collection. Photo: Michael Holly, University of Alberta.

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Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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