Array

Building blocks of life can predate stars

Building blocks of life can form long before stars, a new study shows.

An international team of astrophysicists and astrochemical modelers, mostly based at the Laboratory for Astrophysics at Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands, has shown that glycine, an important building block of life, can form under the harsh conditions of space. The study is published in Nature Astronomy suggests that glycine and other amino acids can form in the dense interstellar clouds of space well before new stars and planets are formed.

Methylamine, the precursor of glycine, was detected in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and in the samples returned by the stardust mission, suggesting amino acids form long before stars. Comets are the most pristine materials in our solar system and represent the Sun and other planets’ molecular composition just before their formation. This contradicts the earlier theory that suggests that UV radiation is required to produce glycine.

The study has shown the possibility of glycine formation on the surface of icy dust grains in the absence of energy through dark chemistry. Dark chemistry refers to chemistry without the need for energetic radiation.

According to the lead author, Dr. Sergio Ioppolo, from the Queen Mary University of London, they simulated the conditions of dark stellar clouds in a laboratory setting wherein a thin layer of ice covers cold dust particles. Subsequent impacts of atoms caused precursor species to fragment and reactive intermediates to recombine.

The scientists showed methylamine could form. They were also able to confirm glycine formation using a unique ultra-high vacuum setup, equipped with a series of atomic beamlines and accurate diagnostic tools. The presence of water ice was essential in this process.

The experimental results were confirmed using astrochemical models and allowed the researchers to extrapolate the data obtained on just a day to interstellar conditions, bridging millions of years.

According to Harold Linnartz, Director of the Laboratory for Astrophysics at Leiden Observatory, “Such an early formation of glycine in the evolution of star-forming regions implies that this amino acid can be formed more ubiquitously in space and is preserved in the bulk of ice before inclusion in comets and planetesimals that make up the material from which ultimately planets are made.”

According to Dr. Ioppolo, glycine can become a precursor to other complex organic molecules. In principle, the same mechanism can add other functional groups to the glycine backbone, forming other amino acids such as alanine and serine in dark clouds of space. Eventually, this organic matter gets delivered to young planets like our Earth through comets and other celestial bodies.

Do you want to publish on Apple News, Google News, and more? Join our writing community, improve your writing skills, and be read by hundreds of thousands around the world!

Source: Phys.org

More from Science – News Landed

+ Green technology offers a battery-free solution to power our smart devices
+ Scientists discover a new species of already endangered primates

+ It may be alright to wear masks while exercising, a new study suggests
+ Hong Kong mass resignations challenge the authorities

Related Stories

Scientists use genetics to save the threatened the Amazon parrots

Researchers from Oakland University are mapping genomes from the amazon parrots in an effort to save them from extinction....

Not-So Eternal: The Eternals trailer ironically signals expiration of interest in MCU

We are a little less than a month away from the release of Marvel Studio’s Black Widow on July...

Featured Stories

India is one of the largest producers of COVID vaccine and yet faces major internal shortages

The worsening situation in India finally gained some stabilization around September 2020. Usually, when things start getting better, people...

The US supports easing patent rules on Covid-19 after intense internal debate…

Since the coming of the pandemic, there has been a lot of debates and questions around the Covid-19 vaccines....

Itziar Ituno says farewell to Inspector Lisbon in Money Heist

After Pedro Alonso (Berlin), Miguel Herrán (Rio), and Jaime Lorente (Denver), it is now Itziar Ituño who has fastened...

Abell 3827 Galaxy Cluster – Another stunning image from Hubble

You are looking at one of the stunning images of the galaxy cluster Abell 3827 taken by the Hubble...

Russia produced the World’s First Covid vaccine for animals

Russia has produced the first batch of Covid vaccine for animals, said the country's agriculture regulator announced on Friday....

Scientists use liquid biopsy for finding residual cancer DNA

Cancer patients who go through surgery for tumor removal may occasionally require chemotherapy as there can be high chances...