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The first step in creating life takes place in space

The first step in creating life takes place in space

LeidenComplex molecules based on carbon and hydrogen – the first building blocks of life are formed in space, and they retain the warm phase of planetary formation. This is shown by a team of international researchers detecting methanol in a protoplanetary disk surrounding a hot young star. Decisive steps in pre-biological evolution take place in cosmic clouds of gas and dust, scientists write Journal of Natural Astronomy.

“In order to evaluate what is possible in a planetary system around a star to create life, we need to know the exact structure of the protoplanetary disk,” explains Alice Booth and her colleagues at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. For example, astronomers believe that the first biological construction blocks for biological formation were brought to the surface of young planets by comets.

Methanol as a symptom

In fact, astronomers have been able to detect numerous organic molecules – molecules based on carbon and hydrogen – in large clouds of gas and dust. Methanol plays an important role in the formation of complex molecules such as amino acids and proteins. For astronomers, the evidence suggests the existence of complex organic chemistry. But methanol is produced only in relatively cold environments by the accumulation of hydrogen on carbon monoxide in ice dust grains. Open question: Can these prebiotic molecules withstand the heat of the gas and dust disk surrounding a young star during the formation of the planet?

Booth and his colleagues have now found an answer to this question. Your observations with the Atma Atomic Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Series Alma in Chile show the metaphor of the 100846-year-old star HD 100546, a protoplanetary disk 360 light years away. And more luminous heat – thus heating up its protoplanetary disk more than the Sun at the time the planets formed.

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Some molecules retain the heat of the planet’s formation

At the prevailing temperatures there, the Booth-led panel argues, methanol cannot be produced – it must have formed in the still cooler cloud of gas and dust that appeared on the HD 100546 star. “This is a strong indication that at least some galactic organic matter will sustain the formation of the protoplanetary disk,” Booth and his colleagues wrote. “So these materials are available to later developing planets, moons and comets.” The first step in creating life takes place in space. (dpa / fwt)