Sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star (Image: ALMA/L. Calçada & NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team)
Artist’s impression of glycolaldehyde molecules (Image: ALMA/L. Calçada)
Infrared view of the Rho Ophiuchi star-forming region (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team )
A molecule of glycolaldehyde (C2H4O2) (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
IRAS 16293-2422 in the constellation of Ophiuchus (Image: ESO, IAU and Sky & Telescope)
Using the latest-generation Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), which is an advanced system of 64 radio-telescope antennas in northern Chile, scientists at the European Southern Observatory have discovered a simple form of sugar orbiting a small binary star. Known as 16293-2422, that star is only 400 light-years away, and has about the same mass as the Sun. The finding could shed light on how the building blocks of life can originate spontaneously in deep space, even without a planet to support them.
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