Did a Complex Carbon Cycle Operate in the Inner Solar System?OPEN ACCESS 

Joseph A. Nuth, Frank T. Ferguson, Hugh G. M. Hill and Natasha M. Johnson

Life 2020, 10(9), 206


“Solids in the interstellar medium consist of an intimate mixture of silicate and carbonaceous grains. Because 99% of silicates in meteorites were reprocessed at high temperatures in the inner regions of the Solar Nebula, we propose that similar levels of heating of carbonaceous materials in the oxygen-rich Solar Nebula would have converted nearly all carbon in dust and grain coatings to CO. We discuss catalytic experiments on a variety of grain surfaces that not only produce gas phase species such as CH4, C2H6, C6H6, C6H5OH, or CH3CN, but also produce carbonaceous solids and fibers that would be much more readily incorporated into growing planetesimals. CH4 and other more volatile products of these surface-mediated reactions were likely transported outwards along with chondrule fragments and small Calcium Aluminum-rich Inclusions (CAIs) to enhance the organic content in the outer regions of the nebula where comets formed. Carbonaceous fibers formed on the surfaces of refractory oxides may have significantly improved the aggregation efficiency of chondrules and CAIs. Carbonaceous fibers incorporated into chondritic parent bodies might have served as the carbon source for the generation of more complex organic species during thermal or hydrous metamorphic processes on the evolving asteroid.”