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Phosphate from Space

29 September 2018

At https://phys.org/print457252479.html … did building blocks for life arrive on earth from space (from comets and meteorites, it is suggested). This article is published in Nature Communications (September 2018), 'An Interstellar Synthesis of Phosphorus Oxoacids' by Andrew Turner and Ralph Kaiser. According to this theory phosphate and dephosphoxic acid, two elements required in the building blocks of molecular biology, came out of the sky. They are the main constituents of chromosomes, the carriers of genetic information in which DNA is found. Together with phospholipids in cell membranes and adenosine triphosphate, which functions as energhy carriers in cells, they form self replicating material present in all living organisms.

On earth, phosphine is lethal to living beings, said Turner, but in the interstellar medium an exotic phosphine chemistry can promote rare chemical reaction pathways to initiate the formation of biorelevant molecules such as oxoacids of phosphorus which eventually might spark the molecular evolution of life as we know it.

Kaiser added, the phosphorus oxoacids detected in experiments (involving lasers to mass sperometers along with gas chromotographs) might also have formed within comets such as Churyumov-gerasimenko (which displayed a phosphorus source thought to be derived from phosphine). Since comets contain at least partially the remnants of the material of the protoplanetary disk that formed our solar system these compounds might be traced back to the interstellar medium wherever sufficient phoshine in interstellar ices is available. Upon delivery to earth by comets or meteorites, these phosphorus oxoacids might have been available for earth's prebiotic phosphorus chemistry. And so on.

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