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Astrophysicists identify large reservoirs of precursor molecules needed to live in the birthplace of the planet

The artist’s impression of the gas and dust of the protoplanetary disk surrounding the young star. The & nbsp; inset shows the molecular gas to be observed by MAPS. It consists of a “soup” of both simple and complex molecules near the planets that are still forming.Credits: M.Weiss / Center for Astrophysics / Harvard & amp; Smithsonian

According to researchers, analysis of unique fingerprints in the light emitted by the material surrounding young stars reveals the “important reservoir” of the large organic molecules needed to form the basis of life. rice field.


Dr. John Ilee, a researcher at the University of Leeds who led the study, suggests that the findings suggest that the basic chemical conditions that brought life to Earth may be more widespread throughout the galaxy. It states that it is.

big Organic molecule It was identified in the protoplanetary disk surrounding the newly formed star.A similar disk Once surrounding the young sun, planet That is now what makes up our solar system.The presence of molecule They are important because they are the “stepping stones” between simpler carbon-based molecules, such as carbon monoxide, which are abundant in the universe. Complex molecule It is necessary to create and maintain life.

Details of the study were released today Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.. This is one of 20 treatises reporting on major international research on planetary chemistry.

Dr. Catherine Walsh of the School of Physics and Astronomy was one of the five co-PIs who led the study. Called the “Molecules with ALMA on the Planetary Formation Scale” (or MAPS) program, we used data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Wave Array (or ALMA) radio telescope in Chile.

Dr. Ilee and his team consisted of astrophysicists from 16 universities around the world, focused on studying the existence, location, and abundance of precursor molecules needed for the formation of life. ..

He states: “These large and complex organic molecules are found in different environments throughout the universe. Laboratory and theoretical studies have shown that these molecules build molecules that are essential components of biochemistry on Earth and sugar. , It has been suggested that it is a “raw material” for producing amino acids. And even the components of ribonucleic acid (RNA) under the right conditions.

“But many of the environments in which we find these complex organic molecules are far from where and when we think the planets will form. We see that these molecules are exactly where they are at the origin of the planet. I wanted to understand more about location and quantity. — Protoplanetary disk. “

Alma — Observe Chemistry Deep in the Universe

The investigation was made possible by advances in the ALMA telescope’s ability to detect very weak signals from molecules in the coldest regions of outer space.

ALMA combines a network of over 60 antennas to allow the observatory to detect signals from these molecules. Each molecule emits light at distinctly different wavelengths, producing a unique spectrum of “fingerprints”. These fingerprints allow scientists to identify the presence of molecules and investigate their properties.

Astrophysicists identify large reservoirs of precursor molecules needed to live in the birthplace of the planet

Four of the protoplanetary disks – GM Aur, AS 209, HD 163296 & amp; MWC 480 – observed within the MAPS project. The top line shows the emission from large (millimeter-sized) dust in the disc. The bottom row shows a three-color composite image of the emission from the large organic molecules HC3N (red), CH3CN (green), and c-C3H2 (blue) on each disc. The dashed circle with a radius of 50 astronomical units shows the size of the comet-forming region of our own solar system. Credit: Dr JDIlee / University of Leeds

Dr. Walsh explains: “The power of ALMA has allowed us to measure the distribution and composition of substances that are actively building nearby planets. Young star first time. Telescopes are powerful enough to do this, even for large, complex molecules that are precursors of life. ”

The research team includes cyanoacetylene (HC3N), acetonitrile (CH3CN), and cyclopropenilidene (CH3CN).NS-C3H2) – Five protoplanetary disks known as IM Lup, GM Aur, AS 209, HD 163296, and MWC 480. The protoplanetary disk is in the range of 300-500 light-years from Earth. All discs show signs of ongoing planetary formation occurring within them.

Protoplanetary disks “feed” young planets

The protoplanetary disk that surrounds a young planet “supplies” matter as it is formed.

For example, it is believed that the young Earth was sown by the collision of asteroids and comets formed on the protoplanetary disk around the Sun.But scientists are on every protoplanetary disk Complex organic molecules You can create biologically important molecules.

This study is beginning to answer that question. Molecules were found on 4 of the 5 discs observed. In addition, the abundance of molecules was higher than scientists expected.

Dr. Ilee said: “ALMA was the first to find these molecules in the innermost regions of these discs on a size scale similar to the solar system. Analysis shows that the molecules are primarily in these inner regions of the model. Is 10 to 100 times higher than expected. ”

Importantly, the disk area where the molecules are located is also where asteroids and comets are formed. Dr. Ilee states that processes that may have helped to start life on Earth can also occur on these discs. The impact of asteroids and comets causes large organic molecules to move to newly formed planets.

Dr. Walsh added: “The important results of this study show that the same components needed to plant life on our planet are also found around other stars. Necessary to start life on the planet. Molecules may be readily available in all planetary formation environments. ”

One of the next questions researchers want to investigate is the more complex molecules Protoplanetary disk..

Dr. Ilee added, “If we find such a large number of such molecules, our current understanding of interstellar chemistry suggests that we should be able to observe even more complex molecules.” rice field.

“We want to use ALMA to look for the next step in the chemical complexity of these discs. When we detect them, how the raw materials of life assemble around other stars. You will be able to better understand what you can do. ”


Scientists Discover Organic Acids in Protoplanetary Disks


For more information:
A series of 20 papers detailing the project, named Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS), was published today in the open access repository arXiv.The treatise was accepted by Astrophysical Journal Supplement As a future special edition series that introduces high-resolution images and their meanings.

Quote: Astrophysicist, the birthplace of the planet, obtained from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-astrophysicists-large-reservoirs-precursor-molecules on September 15, 2021 (September 2021) 15 days) to identify a large reservoir of precursor molecules needed for life in .html

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Astrophysicists identify large reservoirs of precursor molecules needed to live in the birthplace of the planet

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