London, Feb 16 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have confirmed that a meteorite that crashed into earth 40 years ago contains millions of different organic compounds.
The Murchison meteorite landed in a town of that name in Australia in 1969.
According to a report by BBC News, a study using high resolution analytical tools including spectroscopy allowed the team to identify 14,000 different compounds including 70 amino acids in a sample of the meteorite.
They extrapolated this on the basis of knowledge of how similar organic molecules are arranged in space and calculated that the meteorite should contain several million different chemicals.
It has been examined before by scientists looking for specific compounds, but this is the first non-targeted analysis and has confirmed a huge variety of carbon-based chemicals.
"We are really excited. When I first studied it and saw the complexity I was so amazed," said Dr Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, who works at the Institute for Ecological Chemistry in Neuherberg, Germany.
"Meteorites are like some kind of fossil. When you try to understand them you are looking back in time," he explained.
The researchers said that the identification of many different chemicals shows the primordial Solar System probably had a higher molecular diversity than Earth.
According to Dr Schmitt-Kopplin, "We have to crush a few milligrams from the core of the meteorite to enable the extractions with solvents and thus we only see the extractable fraction."
"In addition we are only seeing the ions we can generate with the ionisation source of our mass spectrometer. With different types of ionisation sources we could see even more," he said.
Scientists believe the Murchison meteorite could have originated before the Sun was formed, 4.65 billion years ago.
The researchers say it probably passed through primordial clouds in the early Solar System, picking up organic chemicals.
Dr Schmitt-Kopplin hopes the findings might contribute to the debate over how life on Earth originated.
"I guess many people working in these fields with access to this knowledge will have some further hypothesis and will possibly be having some of their hypotheses confirmed," he said.
The team is also analyzing other meteorites, but say Murchison is probably the most complex they have studied. (ANI)