Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Sweet result from ALMA
by Staff Writers
Munich, Germany (SPX) Sep 04, 2012


A team of astronomers has found molecules of glycolaldehyde - a simple form of sugar - in the gas surrounding a young binary star, with similar mass to the Sun, called IRAS 16293-2422. This is the first time sugar been found in space around such a star, and the discovery shows that the building blocks of life are in the right place, at the right time, to be included in planets forming around the star. The astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to detect the molecules. This image shows the Rho Ophiuchi star-forming region in infrared light, as seen by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE). IRAS 16293-2422 is the red object in the centre of the small square. The inset image is an artist's impression of glycolaldehyde molecules, showing glycolaldehyde's molecular structure (C2H4O2). Carbon atoms are shown as grey, oxygen atoms as red, and hydrogen atoms as white. In the WISE infrared image of Rho Ophiuchi, blue and cyan represent light emitted at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 micrometres, which is predominantly from stars. Green and red represent light from 12 and 22 micrometres, respectively, which is mostly emitted by dust. Credit: ESO/L. Calcada and NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team. For a larger version of this image please go here.

A team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has spotted sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star. This is the first time sugar been found in space around such a star, and the discovery shows that the building blocks of life are in the right place, at the right time, to be included in planets forming around the star.

The astronomers found molecules of glycolaldehyde - a simple form of sugar [1] - in the gas surrounding a young binary star, with similar mass to the Sun, called IRAS 16293-2422.

Glycolaldehyde has been seen in interstellar space before [2], but this is the first time it has been found so near to a Sun-like star, at distances comparable to the distance of Uranus from the Sun in the Solar System. This discovery shows that some of the chemical compounds needed for life existed in this system at the time of planet formation [3].

"In the disc of gas and dust surrounding this newly formed star, we found glycolaldehyde, which is a simple form of sugar, not much different to the sugar we put in coffee," explains Jes Jorgensen (Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark), the lead author of the paper. "This molecule is one of the ingredients in the formation of RNA, which - like DNA, to which it is related - is one of the building blocks of life."

The high sensitivity of ALMA - even at the technically challenging shortest wavelengths at which it operates - was critical for these observations, which were made with a partial array of antennas during the observatory's Science Verification phase [4].

"What it is really exciting about our findings is that the ALMA observations reveal that the sugar molecules are falling in towards one of the stars of the system," says team member Cecile Favre (Aarhus University, Denmark). "The sugar molecules are not only in the right place to find their way onto a planet, but they are also going in the right direction."

The gas and dust clouds that collapse to form new stars are extremely cold [5] and many gases solidify as ice on the particles of dust where they then bond together and form more complex molecules.

But once a star has been formed in the middle of a rotating cloud of gas and dust, it heats the inner parts of the cloud to around room temperature, evaporating the chemically complex molecules, and forming gases that emit their characteristic radiation as radio waves that can be mapped using powerful radio telescopes such as ALMA.

IRAS 16293-2422 is located around 400 light-years away, comparatively close to Earth, which makes it an excellent target for astronomers studying the molecules and chemistry around young stars. By harnessing the power of a new generation of telescopes such as ALMA, astronomers now have the opportunity to study fine details within the gas and dust clouds that are forming planetary systems.

"A big question is: how complex can these molecules become before they are incorporated into new planets? This could tell us something about how life might arise elsewhere, and ALMA observations are going to be vital to unravel this mystery," concludes Jes Jorgensen.

This research was presented in a paper "Detection of the simplest sugar, glycolaldehyde, in a solar-type protostar with ALMA", by Jorgensen et al., to appear in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team is composed of Jes K. Jorgensen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Cecile Favre (Aarhus University, Denmark), Suzanne E. Bisschop (University of Copenhagen), Tyler L. Bourke (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), Ewine F. van Dishoeck (Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands; Max-Planck-Institut fur extraterrestrische Physik, Garching, Germany) and Markus Schmalzl (Leiden Observatory).

.


Related Links
ESO
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Record-Breaking Stellar Explosion Helps Understand Far-Off Galaxy
Hilo HI (SPX) Sep 03, 2012
Nature hath no fury like a dying star - and astronomers couldn't be happier...An international research team, led by Edo Berger of Harvard University, made the most of a dying star's fury to probe a distant galaxy some 9.5 billion light-years distant. The dying star, which lit the galactic scene, is the most distant stellar explosion of its kind ever studied. According to Berger, "It's lik ... read more


STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Flags at half mast across US for Armstrong funeral

Walls of Lunar Crater May Hold Patchy Ice, LRO Radar Finds

Russia's moonshot hope 'not a dream'

A "Blue Moon" Heralds the Harvest

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Marks of Laser Exam on Martian Soil

Opportunity Drives And Images Rock Outcrop

Opportunity Exceeds 35 Kilometers of Driving!

Mars suitable for colonization

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Moles, crabs and Moon dust: DLR at the ILA Space Pavilion

Top electronics fair embraces 'grey' gizmos

XCOR Announces AdamWorks as Lynx Mark I Cockpit Manufacturer

Manned interplanetary missions on NASA's agenda

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Tiangong Orbit Change Signals Likely Date for Shenzhou 10

China Focus: Timeline for China's space research revealed

China eyes next lunar landing as US scales back

China unveils ambitious space projects

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Astronauts Complete Second Expedition 32 Spacewalk

Crew Makes Final Preps for Thursday's Spacewalk

Dragon Spacecraft Set to Make Second Run for ISS

Europe's ATV-3 Space Freighter Raises ISS Orbit to 420 km

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
First-Stage Fuel Loaded; Launch Weather Forecast Improves

NASA launches mission to explore radiation belts

ISRO to score 100 with a cooperative mission Sep 9

NASA Administrator Announces New Commercial Crew And Cargo Milestones

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
NASA's Kepler Discovers Multiple Planets Orbiting a Pair of Stars

How Old are the First Planets?

Kepler discovers planetary system orbiting 2 suns

NASA, Texas astronomers find first multi-planet system around a binary star

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Russia unveils own 'almost Android' system

China's Baidu to invest $1.6 bn in cloud computing

Samsung violates Chinese workers' rights: report

Apple event invites hint at iPhone 5 debut




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement