Water, oxygen and now sugar molecules have been found floating around in space, in the right place and at the right moment to wind up on newly forming planets. Astronomers have found sugar molecules around a star for the first time, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array.
The team found molecules of glycolaldehyde, a simple sugar, in the gas around a star called IRAS 16293-2422. This young binary star has roughly the same mass as our sun. The sugars were found in relatively the same location as Uranus' orbit, according to the European Southern Observatory. It is falling in toward one of the stars in the binary system, which astronomers said is the right direction for it to wind up on a future planet.
Glycoaldehyde is the simplest possible sugar, so it's not exactly the same stuff you would put in a muffin or your morning coffee. But it is a key ingredient in the construction of RNA, notes Jes Jørgensen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, the lead author of a new paper about the space sugar. If the gas and dust cloud surrounding IRAS 16293-2422 coalesces into a planetary system, the new worlds could contain some of this sugar, and perhaps other amino acid chains and complex molecules. The star system is about 400 light years away in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Astronomers are trying to determine how large molecules can become in the tumultuous environments around new stars. "This could tell us something about how life might arise elsewhere, and ALMA observations are going to be vital to unravel this mystery," Jørgensen said.
I am in awe of the details of molecules that can be detected extremely far away, even as a gas. This is WoWzers technology!
They found Planet Pakaskas!
Mmmmmmmmmmm, IRAS 16293-2422. *drool*
Add some flour, yeast, plus a little star dust, move closer to the star and we are in business for DONUTS! This would be a cosmic heaven for
Homer Simpson, "Drool, cosmic donuts!!!"
That pretty much is proof of life out in the stars!
Hardly proof of life, just proof of Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen in the presence of pressure or heat.
Since those are common elements in the universe, I would be surprized if they did not occur more often.
We tend to think of sugar in terms of biology, because that is what produces sugar here on Earth, but these things are chemical reactions.
Methane is a byproduct of biology here, but in space it is found in lakes on some bodies within our own solar system without a biologic cause.
Life as we know it = carbon,
but carbon does not equal life.
If we introduced a tiny black hole in that region, would it spin into cotton candy?
Awww, this story is so sweet. I bet astrobiologists are licking this find up! ;)
We are at a level of technological development where we can find habitable planets so far away, what do you think a civilization that is thousands or millions of years older than us can do? I believe they can not just find habitable planets, but detect if there is life there, as well as have technology to travel there. That is one of the reasons I believe we have been visited by ETs.