A detailed analysis of the chemical makeup within tiny blue and purple salt crystals sampled from the two meteorites, known as Monahans and Zag, found a mix of complex organic compounds such as hydrocarbons and amino acids, according to the study published Wednesday in the USA journal Science Advances. "However, we believe the salt crystals are from another object in space - the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt, Ceres; it suggests that Ceres could be a water-rich world that is a suitable place for the formation of life." said Chan.
With further studies revolving around the meteorites, the researchers plan to study the chemical make-up of the crystals that have not been studied as of yet and may contain crucial complex compounds.
And while it doesn't prove life exists outside Earth, it certainly raises the possibility. Kilcoyne was part of the worldwide research team that prepared the study.More news: Hundreds protest in Europe and USA in solidarity with Iranian uprising
These are the essential ingredients for alien life to form. They date from 4.5 billion years ago, around the earliest days of our solar system.
"We revealed that the organic matter in these meteorites (Monahans smashed into the ground near a children's basketball game in Texas in March 1998 and Zag hit near Morocco in August 1998) was somewhat similar to that found in primitive meteorites, but contained more oxygen-bearing chemistry", said Dr. Yoko Kebukawa, from Yokohama National University, Japan. Similarities of the crystals found in the meteorites are also structural clues the two might have collided with each other and mixed fragments and materials. Eventually, they landed on a second asteroid, where they were buried by other rock-until that asteroid too shed them in the form of the meteorites that carried them to Earth.
"Things are not as simple as we thought they were".More news: China's US Debt Holdings May Be an Ace Card in Trade Dispute
The salt crystals could have come from Ceres, based on space observations and their organic chemistry - seeded by water- or ice-spewing volcanic activity, per the laboratory.
"Everything leads to the conclusion that the origin of life is really possible elsewhere", Chan said. "There is a great range of organic compounds within these meteorites, including a very primitive type of organics that likely represent the early solar system's organic composition". The crystals were around two millimeters in size and contained organic solids and water traces a mere fraction of the width of human hair.
The in-depth analysis of the millimeter-sized salt crystals from the meteorites took time to complete because scientists needed a highly-sensitive instrument to study the crystals of amino acids at nanoscopic scales.More news: Margaret Court Arena should be renamed, says King