Researchers at Yale University in the US and the University of Leeds in the UK have proposed the theory that lightning strikes could provide enough phosphorus compounds needed to sustain the first life on Earth.
Phosphorus has become one of the key components of the origin of life on Earth – it is the main component of DNA, RNA and lipids of cell membranes, which must be bioavailable, that is, be in a reactive, soluble form, to be incorporated into organic molecules.
Phosphorus is present in schreibersite. It was believed that he came to Earth from meteorites. Now scientists have proposed an alternative version of the appearance of schreibersite on our planet.
The authors studied fulgurites – structures formed in rocks in places of lightning strikes and composed mainly of sintered silica and found schreibersite in them in the form of vitreous formations.
They further calculated that in the initial stages of the formation of the Earth, from one to five billion lightning flashes occurred annually, of which from 100 million to one billion reached the Earth.
As a result, from such activity, from 110 to 11,000 kilograms of reactive phosphorus could be formed per year.
According to the researchers, the presence of electrical discharges in the atmosphere can be an important sign for the search for life on other planets.