Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sweet Molecule Could Lead Us To Alien Life

ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2008) — Scientists have detected an organic sugar molecule that is directly linked to the origin of life, in a region of our galaxy where habitable planets could exist.

The international team of researchers, including a researcher at University College London (UCL), used the IRAM radio telescope in France to detect the molecule in a massive star forming region of space, some 26000 light years from Earth.

The molecule – glycolaldehyde - has previously only been detected towards the centre of our galaxy where conditions are extreme compared to the rest of the galaxy. This new discovery, in an area far from the galactic centre, also suggests that the production of this key ingredient for life could be common throughout the galaxy. This is good news in our search for alien life, as a wide spread of the molecule improves the chances of it existing along side other molecules vital to life and in regions where Earth-like planets may exist.

The study is published on the Astro-ph website. Dr Serena Viti, one of the paper’s authors from University College London, said, "This is an important discovery as it is the first time glycolaldehyde, a basic sugar, has been detected towards a star-forming region where planets that could potentially harbour life may exist."


"Imagine" that! Sweet science.  Life outside of planet earth has always fascinated me ever since I was a child.     Of course now, with all of the technology out there beaming information back to us, that imagination is more of when than if.  

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