Meteors: A Delivery Mechanism of Organic Matter to the Early Earth


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Abstract

All potential exogenous pre-biotic matter arrived to Earth by ways of our atmosphere, where much material was ablated during a luminous phase called “meteors” in rarefied flows of high (up to 270) Mach number. The recent Leonid showers offered a first glimpse into the clusive physical conditions of the ablation process and atmospheric chemistry associated with high-speed meteors. Molecular emissions were detected that trace a meteor's brilliant light to a 4,300 K warm wake rather than to the meteor's head. A new theoretical approach using the direct simulation by Monte Carlo technique identified the source-region and demonstrated that the ablation process is critical in the heating of the meteor's wake. In the head of the meteor, organic carbon appears to survive flash heating and rapid cooling. The temperatures in the wake of the meteor are just right for dissociation of CO and the formation of more complex organic compounds. The resulting materials could account for the bulk of pre-biotic organic carbon on the early Earth at the time of the origin of life.

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