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Super-complex organic molecules found in deep space

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Hobby-Eberly telescope

A team of scientists from the Instituto Astrof√≠sica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of Texas has succeeded in identifying one of the most complex organic molecules yet found in the material between the stars, the so-called interstellar medium. The discovery of anthracene could help resolve a decades-old astrophysical mystery concerning the production of organic molecules in space…

‘We have detected the presence of anthracene molecules in a dense cloud in the direction of the star Cernis 52 in Perseus, about 700 light years from the Sun,’ explains Susana Iglesias Groth, the IAC researcher heading the study.

In her opinion, the next step is to investigate the presence of amino acids. Molecules like anthracene are prebiotic, so when they are subjected to ultraviolet radiation and combined with water and ammonia, they could produce amino acids and other compounds essential for the development of life…

The new finding suggests that a good part of the key components in terrestrial prebiotic chemistry could be present in interstellar matter.

This will freak out the space geeks who believe organic molecules that may have seeded the start of life on Earth could only have originated on other planets. Turns out we may be dealing with complex substances that developed in space.

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Written by Ed Campbell

June 23, 2010 at 6:00 am

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