A new analysis of the molecular clouds that envelop the center of the Milky Way has allowed us to discover the presence of the organic molecules that form RNA. A fundamental discovery for our understanding of how life emerged in the universe.
“The chemical content of G + 0.693-0.027 is similar to that of other star-forming regions in our galaxy, and also to that of Solar System objects such as comets,” said astrobiologist Víctor Rivilla.
“This means that his study can give us important insights into the chemical ingredients available in the nebula that give rise to our planetary system.”
The researchers used two telescopes to study the spectrum of light from the cloud. When certain elements or molecules absorb and re-emit light, it can be seen on the spectrum as a darker or lighter line. Interpreting these absorption and emission lines can be tricky, but it can also be used to identify which molecules are present – each has its own spectral signature.
“But there are still missing key molecules that are difficult to detect. For example, we know that the origin of life on Earth probably also required other molecules such as lipids, responsible for the formation of the first cells. So we should also focus on understanding how the lipids could be formed from simpler precursors available in the interstellar medium “.
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