New Delhi: A massive cosmic collision between Earth and an embryonic planet could have provided carbon, a building block of life, according to a latest research. Scientists at Rice University, in Texas, USA believe that all of the Earth's life giving carbon could have been delivered by an interplanetary collision that occurred about 4.4 billion years ago.
The findings, outlined in the journal Nature Geoscience, explains how this volatile element developed life on the Earth and also raises question on the traditional view held by scientists that most of the planet's carbon should have either boiled away in the planet's earliest days or become trapped in its core.
The team began their study on the origination of carbon on our home planet in late 2013 when Dr Rajdeep Dasgupta, co-author of study and his team asked whether carbon, the basis of all life on earth, came from a neighboring planet.
The team then used laboratory experiments to recreate the high-pressure and high-temperature conditions that exist deep inside Earth and other rocky planets and also studied relative concentrations of carbon that would arise under various levels of sulphur and silicon enrichment.
"One scenario that explains the carbon-to-sulphur ratio and carbon abundance is that an embryonic planet like Mercury, which had already formed a silicon-rich core, collided with and was absorbed by Earth. Because it's a massive body, the dynamics could work in a way that the core of that planet would go directly to the core of our planet, and the carbon-rich mantle would mix with Earth's mantle. In this paper, we focused on carbon and sulphur," Dr. Dashgupta said.