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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: December 2020

2 - The Origin of Deep Carbon in Deep Space


Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, and it is one of the most important elements on our planet. In this chapter, we introduce the story of Earth’s carbon all the way from its synthesis in the first generation of stars in our universe, to its incorporation in the solar nebula, where the Sun and planets formed nearly five billion years ago. Carbon’s journey from deep space to deep Earth took almost nine billion years. It is the basis of all life on Earth, where it serves as the structural backbone of molecules large enough to carry biological information. One of carbon’s most important features is that it readily forms chemical bonds with many other atoms. This property is the driver behind the biochemical reactions needed for metabolism and propagation. The history of life on Earth is therefore inextricably linked with the history of these elements.

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