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New Discovery: Building Block Of Life Spiraling The Newborn Stars

First Posted: Jun 09, 2017 06:08 AM EDT

Yesterday, a couple of teams consisting of astronomers revealed they have detected for the first time the key chemical building block of life that spirals the newborn stars. These stars are similar to the Earth's Sun before its planets take shape.

Called methyl isocyanate, a molecule, it plays a vital role in the development of proteins that are primary ingredients for life. This is according to a scientist, Victor Rivilla, from the Astrophysics Observatory in Florence, Italy.

According to Deccan Chronicle, Rivilla is a co-author of a study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The findings of the study may offer hints at how chemicals ignited into living matter on the planet Earth several billion years ago.

The astronomers spotted the organic compound in a thick envelope of interstellar dust and gas that swirl around three newborn stars some 400 light-years away from Earth. These stars are specifically in the constellation of the Serpent Bearer or Ophiuchus.

Researcher Niels Ligterink from Leiden Observatory in The Netherlands and lead author of another study published in the same journal said that the elements required for life to exist "were very likely already available at the earliest stage of solar system formation."

The two teams used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an array of radio telescopes, located in the northern desert of Chile. Each team independently secluded the chemical signature of the molecule: methyl isocyanate. Then they followed up by using computer modeling as well as laboratory experiments to investigate methyl isocyanate's origins.

"Thanks to the amazing capabilities of current telescopes, we are discovering more and more complex organic molecules around the birthplaces of stars and planets," Rivilla said.

On the other hand, the scientists also detected sugars in deep space. These included an organic compound known as glycolaldehyde. This plays a vital role in the creation of DNA structure.

Meanwhile, methyl isocyanate beyond Earth's atmosphere was initially discovered a couple years ago. However, it was in a very dissimilar context -- near complex, high-mass stars many times bigger than the Earth's Sun. These are not the kind of environments that can produce planetary systems like the solar system.

As per Times of India, some of the dust and gas would fall to the stars, while the rest would emerge as planets. Ironically, methyl isocyanate and other chemicals that are key to building blocks of life are toxic and potentially lethal to animals and humans.

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