A research team at the Tuscia University in Italy has released a study suggesting that the kick-starter for early life may have hitched a ride to earth on the backs of meteorites. Formaldehyde, an organic compound that is posited as the key building block for early microbial life, is known to exist in the centers of galaxies and in stellar nurseries. More importantly, comets and meteorites have been known to carry formaldehyde with them on their journey to earth. The research team theorized that the combination of formaldehyde, meteorite material and the radiation given off by solar wind would cause the combination of a ‘pre-biotic soup’ prime for the creation of life.
To simulate the effects of solar wind, the scientists fired a proton beam into a mixture of formaldehyde and meteorite powder. With exposure, the materials formed amino acids, carboxylic acids, sugars and nucleosides, which together make up the basis for DNA and RNA. The fact that these organic compounds can form out in space gives credence to the idea that life on other worlds may be more similar to life on our own than we would first think.