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Molecules in space may show how life formed on Earth

Engadget Engadget 15/06/2016 Jon Fingas
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Scientists have known for a while that the molecular ingredients of life can be found in nearby comets and meteorites, but it's now clear that those building blocks exist much, much further away from home. A research team has used spectral analysis to discover evidence of organic chiral molecules, the "mirror-image" molecules that are key to biology as we know it, in the Sagittarius B2 cloud near the heart of the Milky Way. This doesn't meant that life is forming in space, but it does suggest that the necessary molecular properties can appear in space first and transfer to planets through meteorite impacts.

The data is still fuzzy. It'll take a long while before scientists can tell which of the mirror-image molecules they're looking at. Also, it's not certain just how widespread those molecules might be. Are they everywhere, or found only in pockets? Even so, the findings support the theory that life on Earth (and likely elsewhere) didn't start completely from scratch -- it may well have had a celestial nudge.


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