Lightning Bolts Could Have Delivered The Spark That Started Life on Earth

Science Alert  March 16, 2021
Phosphides are common accessory minerals in meteorites. Consequently, meteorites are proposed to be a main source of prebiotic reactive phosphorus on early Earth. An international team of researchers (USA – Yale University, Wheaton College, UK) proposed an alternative source for widespread phosphorus reduction, arguing that lightning strikes on early Earth potentially formed 10–1000 kg of phosphide and 100–10,000 kg of phosphite and hypophosphite annually. Therefore, lightning could have been a significant source of prebiotic, reactive phosphorus which would have been concentrated on landmasses in tropical regions. Lightning strikes could likewise provide a continual source of prebiotic reactive phosphorus independent of meteorite flux on other Earth-like planets, potentially facilitating the emergence of terrestrial life indefinitely. It is also a chemical signal that we can look for on alien worlds too…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Phosphorus reduction by lightning on early Earth. Credit: Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 1535 (2021)

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