Observing infrared wavelengths of light, researchers have detected certain molecules which are pre-cursors to life as we know it. Such findings happen from time to time, this time in Orion’s nebula.
By sifting through the pattern of spikes in Orion nebula’s light signature, or spectrum, astronomers have identified a few common molecules that are precursors to life-enabling molecules, including water, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, methanol, dimethyl ether, hydrogen cyanide, sulfur oxide and sulfur dioxide. Each spike in the spectrum corresponds to a particular molecule.
“This HIFI spectrum, and the many more to come, will provide a virtual treasure trove of information regarding the overall chemical inventory and on how organics form in a region of active star formation. It harbors the promise of a deep understanding of the chemistry of space once we have the full spectral surveys available,” said Edwin Bergin of the University of Michigan and the principal investigator of the HEXOS Key Program on Herschel.