Scientists have found in interstellar space complex organic molecules




Using a group of radio telescopes, ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array, the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter grille) astronomers from Cornell University, Institute of Astronomy, the Max Planck Society, as well as scientists from the University of Cologne have discovered carbon molecules with a branched structure – one of the common components required for formation of life.

For located about 27 000 light-years from Earth and situated almost in the center of our galaxy gas and dust cloud Sagittarius B2, scientists from three institutions were observed through telescope ALMA, the designed for search and full spectral analysis of electromagnetic signatures of new molecules in interstellar space.

Carry out spectral studies in the frequency range from 84 to 111 GHz, scientists project EMoCA (study of molecular complexity using ALMA) tried to find a picture of the molecular gas and dust cloud Sagittarius B2, so that in the future, based on the data, to extend the boundaries of knowledge about the role played by chemical processes in interstellar space. As a result of these analyzes, the researchers found in the northern part of the central region of Sagittarius B2 new molecule.


Detected cyanide molecule was found to isopropyl (i-C3H7CN) – isomer (optional) n-propiltsianida, straight-chain molecules and relatively commonly encountered in space. However, carbon-based molecule found in the new isopropyl cyanide was “extensive” that would say that it (the molecule), in turn, can be the basis for such things as amino acids – that is the most important components of the protein and, therefore, and life.

“Understanding the process of production of organic matter in the early stages of star formation is critical to the ability to understand the progressive movement and the transition from simple molecules to the real life-giving chemistry” – says Dr. Arno Belloshe of the Institute of Astronomy, the Max Planck Society.

ALMA telescope project for many years of his work found a considerable number of complex molecules, some of which are even so-called space “sugar” (glycolaldehyde), and water molecules, which were found in one of the most distant galaxies away from us, but the new discovery may outweigh all previous findings, since it may indicate that the amino acid is formed directly in the outer space.

In discussing the theory that the amino acids found in fallen to Earth meteorite Sutter’s Mill in California (USA) in 2012, even then could hint at the fact that the original molecule can be detected in interstellar space, now scientists have suggested that vital organic molecules can be formed in the early stages of star formation, perhaps even long before the formation of planets around stars.

Furthermore, the detection of branched molecules in Sagittarius B2 in the same amount, in which in other parts of the cosmos there are molecules of n-propiltsianida, urges scientists to believe that the area of ​​star formation, such as Sagittarius B2, and the molecular composition of a fallen meteorite in California, in which were found branched amino acids, may indicate that these regions may be the birthplace of the original complex molecules that can eventually form life.

Detection of the following complex molecule – n-butyl cyanide (n-C4H9CN) – and its three branched isomers in the following scientific research will largely support this theory, and provide further evidence that the gas and dust clouds of space are formed not only the planet, but also complex organic molecules which, in turn, may be formed life.

Details of this study were published in a recent issue of the scientific journal Nature.


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