Water does not prevent organic molecules from forming in space

Scientists have discovered that complex organic molecules called peptides can form in space much more easily than previously thought. As it turns out, water does not completely stop this process.

Organic molecules are formed in space despite the presence of water. Source: www.newscientist.com

Organic molecules in space

A team of scientists from the astrophysical laboratory of the Max Planck Institute of Astronomy at the University of Jena recently published a paper on the synthesis of organic substances in space. They demonstrated in it that complex molecules called peptides can form directly in a vacuum on the surface of cosmic dust. 

Peptides are really complex organic molecules that are long chains of amino acid remnants. They are literally one step away from proteins, the main building material of cells and tissues of living organisms.

Earlier, the same group of researchers had already proved that peptides can be formed in space. But then they came to the conclusion that the presence of water molecules completely blocked this process. And they are almost always present on the surface of cosmic dust.

Water is not a problem

In the new study, the scientists were joined by their colleagues from the University of Poitiers in France. They have recently been able to perform high-resolution mass spectroscopic analysis. Therefore, scientists recreated the conditions existing in the cold molecular clouds from which stars and planets are formed and began research. 

These clouds contain ammonia, molecular carbon and carbon monoxide. Research at the University of Poitiers has shown that although water slows down the process of converting them into peptides by 50 percent, it does not completely stop it.

According to the researchers, aminoketenes, chemical precursors of amino acids, are first formed from simple organic substances. And only then these “blocks” connect to form peptide chains.

This research is of great importance for solving the question of the origin of life on Earth. Scientists have no doubt that quite complex organic compounds have already come to Earth from space. However, how far their synthesis in the protoplanetary cloud has gone is still a mystery.

According to phys.org

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