New Hints about the Origin of Life

Far away in the depths of space, more than 25,000 light-years removed from Earth, there is a cloud of dust and gas known as Sagittarius B2. Clouds of this sort are known to contain the materials necessary to create stars and planets, but within Sagittarius B2, astronomers have recently discovered a new variety of molecule, a molecule that is indicative of the creation of actual life.

The molecule, dubbed isopropyl cyanide, is carbon-based with a branched structure. Unlike the straight and circular molecules common to space clouds like Sagittarius B2, branched molecules form the basic foundation of proteins, which are essential to all life. Isopropyl cyanide is the first branched molecule to have been detected in interstellar space. Therefore, the implications of its discovery are nothing short of momentous.

Hs-2009-25-e-full_jpgSimply put, it means that the molecular structures which are the source of all life on Earth are not unique to Earth itself, and may indeed be formed alongside stars, providing strong support for the theory that life originated in space. In particular, it is relevant to the idea that said life was brought to Earth by meteorites. Parts of proteins have been detected on fallen meteorites before, and it is now known how they could have come to be there.

In the grand scheme of things, this discovery may seem small, and, indeed, it is. It is merely that of a single molecule in a distant space cloud. But in effect, the discovery of isopropyl cyanide is hugely significant, as it has brought us one whole step closer to understanding the universe and ourselves.

 

–Maria Juran, Science Editor 

 

Posted by on November 10, 2014. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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