The distances between the stars (aka interstellar space) is so huge that we could never be able to travel to another solar system with our current technology. But that doesn’t stop astronomers from running out of ideas. They recently identified a new organic molecule far away from Earth – near the center of the Milky Way. Our planet is more close to the outskirts of the Galaxy.
More precisely, propargylimine is the newfound molecule, and it has the potential to contribute to the formation of amino acids, which are practically the building blocks of life.
Found within the Central Molecular Zone
The region where the organic molecule was found is represented by a system of clouds that are rich in molecular gas. The region is the Central Molecular Zone, and it’s a large repository of complex organic molecules. We can mention iso-propyl cyanide, ethyl formate, and propylene oxide. These are prebiotic molecules, as they play a role for the prebiotic processes that create amino acids, RNA, and DNA. Propargylimine can also play a role within such processes, as they’re molecules with a double carbon-nitrogen bond.
Astrochemist Luca Bizzocchi from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, explains more to us about the propargylimine organic molecule:
The peculiarity of this chemical species lays in its carbon-nitrogen double bond, which gives it a high reactivity,
With this double bond, it becomes a fundamental constituent of the chemical chains that lead from the simplest and most abundant molecules in space containing carbon and nitrogen – for example formaldehyde (H2CO) and ammonia (NH3), respectively – to the more complex amino acids, the fundamental building blocks of terrestrial biology.
Luckily for us, interstellar space is always ready to unveil new insights for us humans. We just need to keep coming up with new tools.
The research was accepted in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and it became available on arXiv.