Arecibo telescope finds critical ingredients for the soup of life in a galaxy far, far away
Astronomers from Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, have detected for the first time the molecules methanimine and hydrogen cyanide – two ingredients that build life-forming amino acids – in a galaxy some 250 million light years away.
“Just add water!” said Robert Minchin, an Arecibo astronomer on the project, who explained that methanimine and hydrogen cyanide are two of the basic ingredients of life, because when combined with water they form glycine, the simplest amino acid, a building block of life on Earth.
The astronomy team, led by Arecibo astronomer Christopher Salter, announced this discovery today (Jan. 11) in a poster presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin. The Arecibo Observatory is managed by Cornell University for National Science Foundation.
The Arecibo astronomers focused on the distant galaxy Arp 220, an ultra-luminous starburst galaxy, because it forms new stars at a very high rate. They used the 305-meter, or 1,000-foot diameter, Arecibo radio telescope, the world’s largest and most sensitive, to observe the galaxy at different frequencies. In fact, for the first time in April 2007, they used the 800 megahertz wide-band mode of the main spectrometer to make these detections.
These molecules were found by searching for radio emission at specific frequencies. Each chemical substance has its own unique radio frequency and astronomers can in that way identify the different substances, much like people can be identified with their unique fingerprints.
“We weren’t targeting any particular molecule, so we didn’t know what we were going to find – we just started searching, and what we found was incredibly exciting,” said Tapasi Ghosh, an Arecibo astronomer.
“The fact that we can observe these substances at such a vast distance means that there are huge amounts of them in Arp 220,” said Emmanuel Momjian, a former Arecibo astronomer, now at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, N.M. “It is indeed very intriguing to find that the ingredients of life appear in large quantities where new stars and planets are born.”
Blaine Friedlander | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...