This artist conception illustrates a storm of comets around a star near our own, called Eta Corvi. Evidence for this barrage comes from NASA Spitzer Space Telescope infrared detectors.

The origin of life is one of the greatest scientific mysteries in the universe. Currently, there are two prevailing theories as to how it happened on Earth: The ingredients for life emerged from a primordial soup on our planet, or the molecules necessary for life were “seeded” here from elsewhere in the cosmos. With the latter theory in mind, a team of scientists has come up with a model for how this delivery could have occurred — and how it might happen on planets beyond our solar system.

In a paper published Nov. 14 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A, the authors describe how “bouncing” comets could have distributed the raw ingredients for life — called prebiotic molecules — throughout star systems similar to our own. The team focused on simulating rocky exoplanets orbiting sun-size stars.

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