How long would it take the Universe to generate an Earth-like chemistry?

In summary, elements were required for life to form, and it would have taken a few million years for these elements to mix and form the elements needed for modern life.
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BillTre
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Our planet (Earth) has a wide variety of different elements, which at some time had to be generated (presumably in stars) and distributed through space to new forming planets (like ours), when the stars exploded.
What is the minimal amount of time needed for this to happen?

It has often been hypothesized that many different elements were required for chemically based life (at least like what we are familiar with) to form. I am interested in limits that the availability of a varied chemistry could have hadon an earlier generation of life.
If we take the age of the universe as about 14 billion years, and the age of the Earth as about 4.5 billion years, the universe would have been about 9.5 billion years old.
What are the life spans of early exploding stars compared with that time?
 
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  • #2
I think it's going to be hard to say without some idea of how much heavier elements is enough.
As long as one just needs any amount whatsoever - First stars started to form within the first billion years, and the most massive of those died after a few million. Add an extra few or a few dozen million for the material to disperse, mix, and start coalescing again. Probably a good bet to say less than 2 billion years overall. The longer one waits, the higher the concentrations, on average.
 
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  • #3
I agree with @Bandersnatch that it's hard to pit an exact date on it because there's not a hard edge. Solar systems half as prevelent as today? One percent? One in a million? One per galaxy? Where do you draw the line?

The time scale for supernovae is a few million years. The time scale for planetary system formation is a few tens of millions. The mixing time is probably a hundred million years or so, but mixing doesn't have to be complete.
 
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  • #4
Would it makes sense to approach this from a star generations point of view instead of a regular time frame? For example numerous 2nd generation stars and a handful of 3rd generation stars dieing to produce the required chemical elements perhaps? However long that may take?
 
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  • #5
Thanks for the responses.

A lack of sharp resolution on the when this might have occurred is not surprising to me.

I suppose that getting enough stars to blow out the larger atoms they generate and then having that come together with some reasonable amount of heavier atoms (as some have said) could prolong how long it might take to make planets with higher atomic weights like earth.
Perhaps a lot faster where there were a lot of super big early stars (if such an area existed).
 
  • #7
CHONPS are often cited as the elements that compose most of Earth's living matter.
However, there are 50 some elements found in (needed?) small amounts for modern biological functioning, due to requirements for metals and other things for catalysis (as in enzymes).
Its not easy to figure out what among all this is really needed in what amounts.
 
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  • #8
What trace elements are necessary is going to lead us down the path of fruitless speculation. Is iron required? Probably not, as there are bloods that use alternatives, like copper, vanadium, and arguably magnesium. I'm not sure what a parade of counter-factuals tells us.
 
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  • #9
Yeah, its kind of a mess to think about.
Fe is really common in a lot of enzymes, but as you say, it can be replaced in many cases.
 

Related to How long would it take the Universe to generate an Earth-like chemistry?

1. How long did it take for the Universe to generate an Earth-like chemistry?

The exact amount of time it took for the Universe to generate an Earth-like chemistry is unknown. However, scientists estimate that it took approximately 9 billion years for the necessary elements and molecules to form and combine in the early Universe.

2. What factors contributed to the formation of Earth-like chemistry in the Universe?

Several factors contributed to the formation of Earth-like chemistry in the Universe, including the Big Bang, the formation of stars and galaxies, and the process of nucleosynthesis which created elements such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen.

3. Did the formation of Earth-like chemistry occur in a specific location in the Universe?

No, the formation of Earth-like chemistry did not occur in a specific location in the Universe. It was a gradual process that occurred throughout the Universe as elements and molecules were created and spread out through space.

4. How did the formation of Earth-like chemistry lead to the creation of life on Earth?

The formation of Earth-like chemistry provided the necessary building blocks for life to emerge on Earth. As these elements and molecules combined and interacted with each other, they eventually formed the complex molecules necessary for life to begin.

5. Is it possible for other planets in the Universe to have a similar Earth-like chemistry?

Yes, it is possible for other planets in the Universe to have a similar Earth-like chemistry. However, the conditions for life to emerge also depend on factors such as the planet's distance from its star, the presence of water, and the planet's atmosphere. Therefore, while other planets may have a similar chemistry, they may not necessarily be able to support life.

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