The research suggested that the formation of ribose and others sugar molecules like arabinose, xylose and lyxose could have been created under the chemical and temperature conditions of cosmic ices during the solar system’s formation, as reported by Discovery News.

Researchers discovered the possible origin of ribose and other sugars, essential for all known forms of RNA and DNA. Credit: Astronomy

In addition, the team concluded that the detection of the sugars provides plausible insights into the chemical processes that could have led to the formation of life in other planetary environments, such as Earth.

“The identification of ribose and related sugar molecules in the simulated cometary ice is new and entirely unexpected,” said lead author Cornelia Meinert, astrochemist with the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis in Nice, France.

Meinert added that the findings of the sugar molecules in the lab-created comet are relevant for many current and past theories on the origin of life. Some believed the source of the life’s essential chemicals were the comets or asteroids that made their way into the planet.

Is it possible?

The detection of ribose is qualified as really exciting by the University of Washington astronomer Donald Brownlee, who was not involved in the study. The discovery provides insight into the prebiotic origin of a critical compound needed for life, he said.

In the first few million years, the outer regions of the solar systems contained massive quantities of ice-coated dust grains and the proposed UV irradiation is surely an important source of organic materials, Brownlee added.

As for the possibility of the comets being the source for Earth, Brownlee said he was sure that the chemical can survive an atmospheric entry. He explained saying that meteorites get hot on their surfaces but not in their interiors.

However, would be a very interesting question according to Brownlee whether the Earth can actually produce those chemicals, as it can occur naturally in space but is a more complex situation on Earth.

Source: Discovery News