Discovery of organic compounds raises prospect of alien life
A new study released Thursday finds that matter ejected by stars contain organic compounds, a key component for sustaining life forms.
Chinese astronomers announced the discovery of complex organic matter in space, suggesting it is not the sole domain of life but can be made naturally by stars. Professors Sun Kwok and Yong Zhang of the University of Hong Kong announced their findings in the current issue of the journal Nature.
Researchers said an organic substance commonly found throughout the universe contains a mixture of aromatic and aliphatic components so complex they resemble the chemical structures of coal and petroleum. The pair of professors say they base their hypothesis on a set of infrared emissions – known as ‘Unidentified Infrared Emission Features’ – previously detected in stars and interstellar space.
‘What impressed me most is that complex organics are easily formed by stars, they are everywhere in our own galaxy and in other galaxies,’ Kwok added. ‘Nature is much more clever than we had imagined.’