This is where stars form, and all the ingredients for life are already here

Researchers from the Institute of Astrophysics in the Canary Islands recently studied the chemical composition of dust and gas in the Perseus Molecular Cloud. This is where newly formed stars are located, around which planets are forming. The star cluster found there is only estimated to be 2-3 million years old.

The components of life are already at the beginning thresholds

Although there are no planets here yet, everything necessary for life to arise on them one day is already here. In the course of their research, astronomers discovered many vital compounds within the cloud, which could at a later stage form more complex amino acids, from which the first microorganisms on Earth originated long ago, and from which all organisms living today evolved. over billions of years.

Also read: Astronomers describe the discovery of … a great cosmic void. And they share a 3D map of the universe

The Perseus Cloud is a great place for such research. After all, this is one of the closest star formation regions to us. Inside it we will find very young stars, but also a lot of interstellar material, from which the protoplanetary disks around stars are formed, as well as possibly the first planets and asteroids. If the ingredients for life are already out there at this point, it can be assumed that the lucky hits of cosmic bodies carrying the building blocks of starter chemical reactions are not essential to their existence. This building material will be present on every planet formed in such a place.

The Perseus cloud and life in space

Astrobiologists have been studying the Perseus cloud for a few years. In 2019, fullerene signatures were discovered here, so the coal is already there. Now explore the interior of the cloud Scientists there also discovered molecular hydrogen, hydroxyl groups, water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, but also hydrogen cyanide, acetylene, diacetylene, cyanoacetylene, ethane and benzene. Moreover, detailed analysis allowed finding more complex compounds, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Importantly, all of these compounds are detected in the interstellar matter itself, from which planetary bodies are or will be formed. This means that nothing needs to be hit on them later, everything that is necessary for the emergence of life will already be in its place. It can be said that Perseus Cloud is a real amusement park for organic chemists.

The most interesting thing is that the results of the research above are based on data collected using the Spitzer Space Telescope, which operated in orbit from 2003 to 2020. The next step will be to look at the Perseus cloud with the much more powerful James Webb Space Telescope. The new instrument, with its high-resolution sensitivity, will be able to reconstruct the spatial distribution of compounds already detected, and possibly also confirm the presence of amino acids in the gas that fills the entire cloud. So it turns out that this is not the end, but only the beginning of research in this amazing region of space.

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