1129 GMT February 29, 2020
Researchers made the staggering claim after ‘proving’ that ribose, the basic sugar from which much of our DNA is composed, is able to form on a comet, according to express.co.uk.
Scientists from the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, and the Institut de Chimie de Nice, claim to have discovered that the nucleic acids that make up our DNA, are formed primarily from ribose, and therefore may not be originally from Earth.
At the formation of our solar system, the young Sun was surrounded by a circumstellar disc of gas and dust.
Planets then formed by aggregation of these small, frozen bodies that met violently and merged, bringing many chemical compounds.
Researchers simulated these conditions to create a synthetic comet.
They said as the synthetic comet ‘warmed’, as though it were nearing the Sun, ribose and a similarly structured family of sugars were detected.
A spokesman for the research said: "It was previously thought that ribose was the original sugar and precursor to DNA, yet the research exposed at least three others that may have been around at the same time or before.
This was the first occurrence of a prebiotic synthesis of ribose from the basic elements found in comets, without human interaction."
Additionally, the experiment produced a formose reaction, or the formation of sugars from formaldehyde, which was previously deemed impossible by chemists due to its complexity.
Although it was known that formaldehyde can exist on comets, it was not predicted that solvated electrons, found in the ice, could act as the necessary catalyst in the creation of ribose.
Although the existence of ribose in real comets is yet to be confirmed, scientists say the new discovery completes the list of molecular building blocks of life that can be formed in interstellar ice on a comet.
It is claimed it adds further support to a theory that comets are the source of the organic molecules that made life possible on Earth.