Simulations Show How Comet Impacts Delivered Building Blocks of Life

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Over at Science World Report, Mark Hoffman writes that scientists using supercomputers have found that the materials and chemical reactions from comet impacts brought an abundance of life building organic compounds to Earth. Before these events, early Earth was not very hospitable when it came to jump-starting life.

The flux of organic matter to Earth via comets and asteroids during periods of heavy bombardment may have been as high as 10 trillion kilograms per year, delivering up to several orders of magnitude greater mass of organics than what likely pre-existed on the planet,” said Nir Goldman from Lawrence Livermore, who conducted the research with Isaac Tamblyn from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

Goldman’s earlier work is based on computationally intensive models, which, in the past, could only capture 10-30 picoseconds of a comet impact event. However, with new, more computationally efficient models, the team was able to capture hundreds of picoseconds of the impacts, which is much closer to chemical equilibrium.

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