The origin of RNA precursors on exoplanets

Rimmer, Paul B. and Xu, Jianfeng and Thompson, Samantha J. and Gillen, Ed and Sutherland, John D. and Queloz, Didier (2018) The origin of RNA precursors on exoplanets. Science Advances, 4 (8). ISSN 2375-2548 DOI https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aar3302

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aar3302

Abstract

ASTRONOMYCopyright©2018TheAuthors,somerightsreserved;exclusivelicenseeAmericanAssociationfortheAdvancementofScience.Noclaimtoorigi nalU.S.GovernmentWorks.DistributedunderaCreativeCommonsAttributionLicense4.0(CCBY).The origin of RNA precursors on exoplanetsPaul B. Rimmer1,2*, Jianfeng Xu2, Samantha J. Thompson1, Ed Gillen1,John D. Sutherland2, Didier Queloz1Given that the macromolecular building blocks of life were likely produced photochemically in the presence ofultraviolet (UV) light, we identify some general constraints on which stars produce sufficient UV for this photo-chemistry. We estimate how much light is needed for the UV photochemistry by experimentally measuring therate constant for the UV chemistry (“light chemistry”, needed for prebiotic synthesis) versus the rate constantsfor the bimolecular reactions that happen in the absence of the UV light (“dark chemistry”). We make thesemeasurements for representative photochemical reactions involving SO2�3and HS−. By balancing the ratesfor the light and dark chemistry, we delineate the“abiogenesis zones”around stars of different stellar typesbased on whether their UV fluxes are sufficient for building up this macromolecular prebiotic inventory. We findthat the SO2�3light chemistry is rapid enough to build up the prebiotic inventory for stars hotter than K5 (4400 K).We show how the abiogenesis zone overlaps with the liquid water habitable zone. Stars cooler than K5 may alsodrive the formation of these buildingblocks if they are very active. The HS−light chemistry is too slow to work evenfor early Eart

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: AREP2018, IA77
Subjects: 05 - Petrology - Igneous, Metamorphic and Volcanic Studies
Divisions: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
05 - Petrology - Igneous, Metamorphic and Volcanic Studies
07 - Gold Open Access
99 - Other
Journal or Publication Title: Science Advances
Volume: 4
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aar3302
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2022 15:46
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2022 15:46
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/6045

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