Sugar Molecules detected around Young Star (ESO)

The sugar molecules are not only found in the right place but are on the right track towards a planet

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An international team of astronomers has detected for the first time sugar around a young star, said the European Southern Observatory (ESO) from its headquarters in the town of Garching, in southern Germany.

With ALMA radio telescope, located in the Atacama Desert, Chile, on the Chajnantor plateau at 5000 meters high, the scientists were able to capture glycol aldehyde molecules in the gas surrounding the young binary star IRAS 16293-2422, with a mass similar to the Sun and located 400 light years from Earth.

“In the disk of gas and dust surrounding the star forming glycol aldehyde recent find, a simple sugar that is not very different from what we put in coffee,” said Jes Jørgensen, Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark and lead author of the study.

According to the astronomer, “this molecule is one of the ingredients in the formation of ribonucleic acid (RNA), which like the DNA, which is related, is one of the key ingredients for life.”

“What’s really fascinating is that our findings with ALMA observations reveal that the sugar molecules are falling toward a system of stars,” said Cécile Favre, University of Aarhus (Denmark).

Moreover, “the sugar molecules are not only found in the place to find their way to a planet, but also going in the right direction,” he added.

Thus, this finding demonstrates that the essential elements for life are in the right time and place to exist on planets that form around the star.

Glycol aldehyde already been spotted in interstellar space before, but this is the first time that it is located so close to a star of this type, a distance equivalent to separating the Sun Uranus in our own solar system.

“It raises a big question: How complex can become these molecules before they are incorporated into new planets? This could give us an idea about how life could arise elsewhere,” said Jorgensen.

According to the scientist, the observations with the Large Millimeter/sub millimeter Array Atacama (ALMA), characterized by high accuracy and sensitivity, “will be vital to unravel this mystery.”