Astronomers have discovered a complex organic compounds through the universe


28/10/2011

The journal Nature published a study which demonstrated that organic compounds with an unexpectedly high level of complexity exist throughout the Universe. These results suggest that the complex organic compounds can form stars.

Prof. Sun Kwok and Dr. Yong Zhang of the University of Hong Kong have shown that the organic substance in the universe is composed of both aromatic (cyclic form), and from aliphatic (chain) connections. These compounds are so complex that their chemical structure resembles coal or oil. Since coal and oil are remnants of ancient life, it was thought that this form of organic matter is formed exclusively of living organisms. Opening command suggests that complex organic compounds can be synthesized in space even in the absence of any form of life.

Scientists have studied the mysterious phenomenon: a set of infrared emissions in stars, interstellar space, and galaxies. Their spectral signatures are known as "unidentified infrared emissions." For over two decades, the most widely accepted theory regarding the sources of a similar signature, it was believed that this simple organic molecules made of carbon and hydrogen atoms, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Conducting observations with the Infrared Space Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope, "Spitzer" Quoc and Zhang showed that the spectrum can not be explained by PAH molecules. The team has put forward the view that the substances that produce similar infrared rays are much more complex chemical structure.

Stars do not only create a complex organic substance, but also push it into interstellar space. The results are quite consistent with an earlier idea proposed by Kwok, according to which the old stars are molecular factories capable of producing organic compounds. "Our work has shown that stars have no problem coping with the creation of complex organic compounds in almost complete vacuum," - said Quoc. "Theoretically, it is possible, but we nevertheless can see it."

Even more interesting is the fact that the structure of this organic star dust is similar to complex organic compounds that are found in meteorites. Since meteorites are remnants of the early solar system, then the question arises, if the stars could enrich the early Solar System with organic compounds. The question of what role these compounds play in the origin and development of life on Earth is still open.

Original: Physorg


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