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 ")

Zap Space Debris With Telescope Laser On ISS
'... their lasers vaporized the smaller satellites...'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

Spacex Sticks Landing! But Neglects Lateral Forces
Elon Musk and Spacex engineers will not be denied!

Asterank Database Identifies Profitable Asteroids
'Now it was a huge, charted, floating ore deposit for the entire Solar System.'- Nelson S. Bond, 1941.

China Plans Orbiting Solar Power Station
'Our beams feed these worlds energy drawn from... the Sun.'- Isaac Asimov, 1941.

 

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

Zap Space Debris With Telescope Laser On ISS
'... their lasers vaporized the smaller satellites...'

Moran Cerf, When Will We Get Neuro Tech For Ourselves?
If brainwave-sensing consumer products tickle your fancy...

Velkess Energy Storage System (It's A Flexible Flywheel!)
'The kinetic man unjacked Lalji’s kink-springs from the winding treadmills...'

Performance Enhancing Drugs - In Gaming?
'A faint smell of rachag stimulant wafted down the table.'

Automated Treadmill Adjusts To Your Pace
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched...'

Mr. Anderton, Beware This Long-Range Iris Scanner
Try keeping your eyes shut, Mr. Anderton.

Mini Statues Of You From 3D Images
'...A three-dimensional simulacrum of himself six inches high took form.'

'Forever' Camera Powered By Its Own Images
'What I have in this camera is not a record of what you did just now but what will go on here in the next half hour...'

Robot Chef Makes Thousands Of Dinners
'I got one of those new electronic cameras... and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'

Revault Wearable Private Cloud Is Too Vaporous
'A man or woman could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres...'

Spacex Sticks Landing! But Neglects Lateral Forces
So close!

Lumo Projector Turns Kids Rooms Into Bradbury's Veldt
'The walls began to purr and recede... and presently an African veldt appeared...'

Ground Control Space Beer
Ninkasi Brewing Co. has its own space program.

Google Wants To Give Orders To Robot Armies
Or maybe they aren't bent on world domination.

Gestures Control Spider Robot Army
'What do you think - four spiders, one per floor?'

Hologram Protest World's First
'Their bodies were in their dwelling cells, but their telucid images filled the hall.'

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.