This discovery took place in the envelope of the evolved giant star IRC +10216, located some 550 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Leo.
Human understanding of the building blocks of life took a step forward in 2007, with a discovery in outer space.
Astronomers used the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to discover what they claim is the largest negatively charged molecule yet found in space. It’s a string of one hydrogen and eight carbon atoms, found near a star located 550 light-years from Earth, in the direction of our constellation Leo.
The discovery opens up possibilities in the ‘recipe books’ that astronomers use to understand how organic chemicals assembled to form life’s building blocks. Here’s one of the discoverers, Anthony Remijan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
Anthony Remijan: So what is this all telling us? It’s telling us that what happened on the early Earth to form these large, pre-biotic organic molecules was not special. And what happens then when they get incorporated into the formation of early solar systems and early planet formation. They get caught up in the asteroids. They get caught up in the comets. They get caught up in the formation processes that are eventually leading to the formation of planets.
Remijan added that we still don’t understand how the promordial soup formed into self-replicating DNA, and eventually, to life.
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Our thanks to:
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
In his years with EarthSky, Jorge Salazar conducted thousands of in-depth interviews with scientists. He knows a lot about as diverse as nanotechnology, ecosystem-based management, climate change, global health, international environmental treaties, astrophysics and cosmology, and environmental security. Jorge currently works as a Technical Writer/Editor for the Texas Advanced Computing Center, which designs and deploys powerful advanced computing technologies and innovative software solutions for scientific researchers.