Particle accelerator reveals these special solar flares sparked life on Earth
While solar flares are capable of causing destruction to sophisticated equipment like satellites, a strong superflare could have sparked life on Earth, according to a recent study.
Earth is being continuously bombarded by solar storms, solar flares, and other solar phenomena since its very birth billions of years ago. The trend continues as we have seen multiple X-class solar flare eruptions, G3-class solar storms, super-charged CME clouds, and solar winds wreak havoc on our planet. Although this solar activity is dangerous and can cause significant damage to power grids, communication networks, and satellites, it might have also been the one thing that gave the gift of life to Earth. Yes, solar activity may well be behind the emergence of life on Earth, a recent study has suggested.
This shocking revelation was published on April 28 in the journal Life.
Life on Earth
Scientists have found that amino acids and carboxylic acids, which are the building blocks of life, are produced when charged particles from solar wind and gases present in Earth's early atmosphere combine. Previously, it was believed that Earth's early atmosphere heavily consisted of ammonia and methane but later, it was discovered that carbon dioxide and molecular nitrogen were present in much larger amounts than methane and ammonia. Therefore, it would have taken a lot more energy than just lightning to break down these particles.
These claims are further supported by a 2016 study published in the Nature Geoscience journal which suggested that superflares erupted from the Sun's surface every 3 to 10 days during the first 100 million years of the Sun. For the unaware, superflares are extremely strong bursts of solar particles which are up to 10 thousand times more powerful than normal solar flares.
How the study was conducted
The authors of the study used a particle accelerator to come to the conclusion that cosmic particles from high-energy superflares could have stimulated life on Earth. Kensei Kobayashi, a professor of chemistry at Yokohama National University in Japan, said in a statement, “ Most investigators ignore galactic cosmic rays because they require specialized equipment, like particle accelerators. I was fortunate enough to have access to several of them near our facilities."
The solar wind would have bombarded Earth's atmosphere with charged particles that interacted with atmospheric gases to form amino acids and carboxylic acids. When these molecules combined, they could have formed the first proteins that are essential for life on Earth.
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