Heating Turned The Artificial Interstellar Organic Matter Into Water And Oil
Much of the Earth's water supply may have come not from comets or asteroids, but the decomposition of complex organic molecules in the first epochs of the planet's existence. This conclusion was reached by Japanese planetologists who obtained water and oil by heating samples of an artificial analog of organic matter from interstellar gas-dust clouds in the laboratory. A description of their research is available in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.
"Our experiments show that the source of water for our planet could be an organic matter that existed in the closest part of the Solar system to Earth. Besides, we have discovered a possible abiotic source of oil formation. The analysis of organic matter from the Ryugu asteroid, which the Hayabusa-2 probe will deliver at the end of this year, will help us test these theories," said one of the authors of the work, a Professor At the University of Hokkaido (Japan) Akira Kuti.
Planetologists believe that in the first moments of the Earth's existence, it did not have significant water reserves. This is since the molecules of this substance were either destroyed by the ultraviolet radiation of the young Sun or carried into outer space even before the embryo of our planet was formed.
Most researchers assume that modern reserves of water and organic matter came to our planet after the appearance of the Earth – either with asteroids that "bombarded" the surface of the planet or with comets. Now scientists are more inclined to the second version. However, it can not yet explain why the water reserves on Earth are several times less than what the simulation predicts.
According to the results of a new study, Kuti and his colleagues found another explanation for how water could appear on the surface of the Earth. In the course of their work, they experimented with analogs of organic matter from interstellar gas-dust clouds. In its composition, it is similar to the primary matter of the Solar system, from which all its planets, comets, and asteroids are supposed to have formed.
Organic origin of water
In addition to water, carbon monoxide, and ammonia, the particles of this matter contained a large number of hydrocarbons and other organic matter. In the past, scientists did not consider it as a possible source of water, because they believed that the reserves of such matter were relatively small.
The study of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as well as the asteroids Bennu and Ryugu, which presumably consist of the primary matter of the Solar system, showed that this is far from true. There was almost no water in them, but there were quite a lot of similar organic compounds.
This feature of asteroids and comets has prompted Japanese planetary scientists to estimate how much water can occur during the simplest reactions between this organic matter and other substances. To do this, they heated small samples of an artificial analog of interstellar organic matter, gradually increasing the temperature from 24 to 300-400 °C.
These experiments showed that at relatively low temperatures (no more than 150 °C), protoplanetary matter almost did not change its properties, except for color. At a temperature greater than 150 °C, it divided into two liquids with different properties. One was transparent and fluid, and the other was black and viscous.