AFP reports: Two teams of astronomers said Thursday that they have for the first time detected a key chemical building block of life swirling around infant stars that resemble our sun before its planets formed.
The molecule, methyl isocyanate, “plays an essential role in the formation of proteins, which are basic ingredients for life,” said Victor Rivilla, a scientist at the Astrophysics Observatory in Florence, Italy, and co-author of a study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The findings could offer clues on how chemicals sparked into living matter on Earth several billion years ago.
At the very least, they show that elements crucial for the emergence of life “were very likely already available at the earliest stage of solar system formation,” said Niels Ligterink, a researcher at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands and lead author of a second study in the same journal. [Continue reading…]