The upper atmosphere of the early Earth, a source of prebiotic organic compounds

Abstract : The origin of the organic matter on the early Earth is an important subject of research in planetology. This thesis presents an experimental study of the formation of organic compounds in the atmosphere of the early Earth investigating the reactivity of gaseous mixtures majority made of N2 and CO2. They present an important reactivity highlighted by the formation of gaseous products and solid products called tholins. The formation of these products points out CO2 as an efficiency source of carbon for the organic atmospheric growth. The identification of the gaseous products and the elemental analysis of the tholins showed a composition by C, N, H and O highlighting an efficiency coupling between the chemistry of these elements necessary for the formation of prebiotic compounds. This type of study have been applied then toTitan, which have a more reduced atmosphere, made of N2 and CH4, but, which contained also oxygenated trace species: principally CO. The addition of CO in the reactive medium involves also a coupling between the chemistry of O and the C, N, H chemistry currently considered for Titan. Finally I propose and investigate experimentally two phenomena, which may involve a chemical evolution of the aerosols of Titan during their sedimentation to the surface. First, an exposition of tholins to VUV photons, characteristic of the thermosphere of Titan, involves a selective depletion of amines function in favor of aliphatic functions. Second, an irradiation by UV photons of condensed species at the surface of tholins involves a reactivity of the solid species in interaction with the tholins, changing their chemical composition.
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Benjamin Fleury. The upper atmosphere of the early Earth, a source of prebiotic organic compounds. Astrophysics [astro-ph]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015SACLV012⟩. ⟨tel-01328705⟩

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