Precursor To Life Found In Space Cloud

Astronomers have found tentative traces of a precursor chemical to the building blocks of life near a star-forming region about 1,000 light-years from Earth.

The signal from the molecule, hydroxylamine, which is made up of atoms of nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen, still needs to be verified. But, if confirmed, it would mean scientists had found a chemical that could potentially seed life on other worlds, and may have played a role in life's origin on our home planet 3.7 billion years ago.

Some astronomers think that the ingredients for life are formed in cold, gas-, dust- and plasma-filled interstellar clouds. Comets, asteroids and meteors forming in these clouds bear such chemicals, and as they continually bombard planets, they could have deposited the chemicals on Earth or other worlds, said Anthony Remijan, an astrochemist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Va., who led the research effort.

To test this theory, astronomers look for the chemical fingerprints of simple, inorganic compounds forming in interstellar clouds. These compounds aren't life or even carbon-based, but they can react with other molecules to form some of the building blocks of life, such as amino acids or the nucleotides that make up DNA...

In the hunt for these molecules, Remijan and colleagues scanned a star-forming region of the Milky Way called L1157-B1 using the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA).

They found a very weak signal of hydroxylamine, which makes sense since, inside L1157-B1, a violent gas jet is slamming into the interstellar medium; the shock from this gas outflow would be sufficient force to trigger these chemical reactions in the otherwise frigid depths of an interstellar cloud. The result: hydroxylamine. In turn, hydroxylamine could react with other compounds, such as acetic acid, to form amino acids that could be dumped onto other worlds during space-rock collisions.

In his 1957 book The Black Cloud, astronomer and sf author Fred Hoyle discusses the possibility of an intelligent, living cloud in space. Not to sensationalize this story, but here's one of the covers of Hoyle's novel; the 1959 paperback edition.


(Earth menaced by a power beyond the planets and older than time!)

And here's a quote from the cloud:

[I]t is most unusual to find animals with technical skills inhabiting planets, which are in the nature of extreme outposts of life... Living on the surface of a solid body, you are exposed to a strong gravitational force. This greatly limits the size to which your animals can grow and hence limits the scope of your neurological activity. It forces you to possess muscular structures to promote movements, and ... to carry protective armour ...

[Y]our very largest animals have been mostly bone and muscle with very little brain... By and large, one only expects intelligent life to exist in a diffuse gaseous medium... The second unfavourable factor is your extreme lack of basic chemical foods. For the building of chemical foods on a large scale starlight is necessary. Your planet, however, absorbs only a very minute fraction of the light from the Sun. At the moment, I myself am building basic chemicals at about 10,000,000,000 times the rate at which building is occurring on the whole ... surface of your planet.

From Space.com.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/14/2013)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Revisiting A Cloud City On Venus
I've been looking forward to something like this since 1980.

'Windowless Cockpit' Like Star Trek's Patent Applied For
Wait - you thought Sulu had a window?

NASA's Warp Speed Starship Design
'As Earth's faster-than-light spaceship hung in the void between galaxies...'- John W. Campbell

ForceShoes, NASA's Exercise Sandals For Astronauts
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses.'- Murray Leinster, 1953.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Hotel Staffed Entirely By Robots
'A planet-wide chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'

Electric Bacteria That Live On Pure Energy
'April 5, 1977; that was the night the waveries came.'

EXACTO Smart Bullet From DARPA
Nicely visualized in what 1984 movie?

Neural Implant To Treat Memory Loss
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'

MIT's Shape-Shifting Robot Materials
The T-100, an advanced prototype, is made of liquid metal. Not quite ready.

LS3 AlphaDog Robot Marine Corps Video
'He admired the fast-plodding, articulated legs, so necessary since roads had degenerated...'

Vantablack Is Blacker Than Your Black
'Well, we have a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...'

Remotely Operated Gardening Rover - Student's Space Agricultural Robot
'There were things growing all over the place, not just in some domed enclosures blasted some millions of miles out in to space.'

Revisiting A Cloud City On Venus
Lando Calrissian, are you still available?

'Windowless Cockpit' Like Star Trek's Patent Applied For
Mr. Sulu, take us out.

'No Man's Sky' - The Matrix Is Almost Ready
Ready for an adventure, Neo?

The Claustrum - The Brain's On Off Switch?
'All I have to do is move this switch and he'll recover consciousness...'

Haptic Gloves Teach Braille Without Effort
'Jenkins bit his lip... [at] the sensation of having his fingers manipulated by the gauntlets he wore.'

India's Commuters Face Philip K Dick's 'Sales Pitch' Future
'All around him the vague half-defined echoes of ads glittered and gibbered...'

Harvard's Robobee Has Insect-Inspired Eyes
'It studied its surroundings... and saw with its minute vision tubes.'

Robots Implore Humans For Help Online
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.