Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists discover key molecules in the interstellar space for the formation of basic life structures

19.09.2008
A team of scientists led by researchers from the Instituto Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has succeeded in identifying naphthalene, one of the most complex molecules yet discovered in the interstellar medium.

The detection of this molecule suggests that a large number of the key components in prebiotic terrestrial chemistry could have been present in the interstellar matter from which the Solar System was formed. IAC researchers Susana Iglesias Groth, Arturo Manchado and Aníbal García, in collaboration with Jonay González (Paris Observatory) and David Lambert (University of Texas) have just published these results in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The naphthalene was discovered in a star formation region in the constellation Perseus, in the direction of the star Cernis 52. “We have detected the presence of the naphthalene cation in a cloud of interstellar matter located 700 lightyears from the Earth”, says IAC researcher Susana Iglesias Groth. The spectral bands found in this consstellation coincide with laboratory measurements of the naphthalene cation.

Iglesias Groth further adds, “we aim to investigate whether other, more complex, hydrocarbons exist in the same region, including aminoacids”. When subjected to ultraviolet radiation and combined with water and ammonium, both very abundant in the interstellar medium, naphthalene reacts and is capable of producing a wide variety of aminoacids and naphthaloquinones, precursor molecules to vitamins.

All these molecules play a fundamental role in the development of life as we know it on Earth. In fact, naphthalene has been found in meteorites that continue to fall to the surface of the Earth, and which fell with much greater intensity in epochs preceding the appearance of life.

The work of these researchers also enables us to understand one of the most intriguing problems in interstellar medium spectroscopy. For the past 80 years, the existence has been known of hundreds of spectroscopic bands (the so-called “diffuse bands”) associated with interstellar matter, but the identification of the agent causing them has remained a mystery.

“Our results show that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as naphthalene are responsible for the diffuse bands and should be present throughout the interstellar medium”, says Iglesias Groth.

Article in “Astrophysical Journal Letters”, 685, L55-L58: "Evidence for the naphthalene cation in a region of the interstellar medium with anomalous microwave emission".

S. Iglesias Groth, A. Manchado, A. García Hernández. Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias
J. I. González Hernández. Paris Observatory
D. L. Lambert. McDonald Observatory, University of Texas

Nadjejda Vicente Cabañas | alfa
Further information:
http://www.iac.es/divulgacion.php?op1=16&id=545&lang=en

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hamburg and Kiel researchers observe spontaneous occurrence of skyrmions in atomically thin cobalt films
23.08.2019 | Universität Hamburg

nachricht Building an atomic-scale vacuum trap for spin-polarized electrons
23.08.2019 | University of Hamburg Sonderforschungsbereich 668

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Hamburg and Kiel researchers observe spontaneous occurrence of skyrmions in atomically thin cobalt films

Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.

The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...

Im Focus: Physicists create world's smallest engine

Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.

Im Focus: Quantum computers to become portable

Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.

Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making small intestine endoscopy faster with a pill-sized high-tech camera

23.08.2019 | Medical Engineering

More reliable operation offshore wind farms

23.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tracing the evolution of vision

23.08.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>