Researchers at the University of Osaka have studied the asteroid shower that bombarded the Earth and the Moon 800 million years ago.
A scientific team led by Kentaro Terada, professor in the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of Osaka, has proposed a new hypothesis about the causes of the sharp increase in phosphorus concentration in the world oceanbetween 750 and 800 million years ago, which is at the origin of biological evolution and the appearance of a great variety of living beings.
Speaking to the RIA Novosti agency, the scientist explained that until now the general opinion is that phosphorus would have reached the world ocean, promoting the reproduction of algae, thanks to volcanic activity.
However, thanks to data obtained by the lunar orbiter Kaguya, researchers at the University of Osaka discovered in late July that about 800 million years ago a huge asteroid broke apart, the fragments of which bombarded the Earth and the Moon.
Although the effect of the asteroids on our satellite was reflected in the formation of its famous craters, the intensity with which they fell on Earth, where the simplest forms of life already existed,was 20 times more powerful.
“It is a fact that a large amount of phosphorus was brought into the ocean from outer space. This amount was more than ten times higher than what was in the ocean at that time. We can safely say that the marine environment changed as a result.«, Maintains Terada.
"We do not question the [previous] scenario, but we offer a new view that the strong increase in phosphorus in the oceans was of extraterrestrial origin and was caused by the asteroid rain," adds the professor.
Where did these asteroids come from?
At the end of July, Kentaro Terada's team published a study in which they managed to verify that an asteroid 100 kilometers in diameter exploded 800 million years ago, generating fragments that rained on the Moon and Earth.
With the help of the terrain camera (CT) of the Japanese Space Agency's Kaguya lunar orbiter, the researchers studied the formation age of 59 lunar craters, including the famous Copernicus crater, 93 kilometers in diameter, concluding that at least eight of them were formed simultaneously.
The objective of their analysis was to discover the ancient impacts of celestial bodies on Earth, where the craters have been erased due to different geological processes such as erosion and volcanism.
The researchers concluded that “at least 4-5 times 10 to the 16-kilogram meteorite struck our Earth-Moon system with an impact 30 to 60 times that of the [meteorite responsible for the Mexican crater] Chicxulub, just before the Cryogenic period, which was an era of great environmental and biological changes ", recalls the journal Nature Communications.