|Paula Marie Navarra |||Aug 01, 2014 12:14 PM EDT|
Researchers report that the Earth was heavily altered four billion years ago by giant asteroid impacts during the "Hadean Period."
The Hadean Period is an unknown period in Earth's history that occurred during the first 500 million years of the Earths formation.
Hadean means hell-like because scientists believe that during that time, the entire planet was covered with magma.
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Despite this, there was a sizeable quantity of water that would have been in the material that formed Earth.
Water was probably less widespread during this period because it would have escaped Earth's gravity more easily.
Researchers believe this new finding means asteroidal collisions not just altered the geology of Hadean Earth, but also played a major part in Earth's evolution.
Simone Marchi from the NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute said that roughly four billion years ago, large regions on Earth's surface couldn't survive the asteroids' impacts and effects.
These large impacts had severe effects on the ecosystem of the time. According to researchers, Hadean Earth could have been hit by one or four asteroids that were 600 miles wide and capable of global sterilization.
Aside from these asteroids, Hadean Earth was also bombarded by three to seven asteroids that were about 300 miles wide and capable of global ocean vaporization.
Marchi said during that time, the lag between major collisions was long enough to allow intervals of calmer conditions.
Any life that would have emerged during the Hadean period likely needed to resist high temperature to survive.
Marchi believes that if there were creatures living during the period, they would have lived in niches deep underground or in the ocean's crust.
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