Astronomers Discover a Key Life Ingredient in Dark Cloud in Deep Space
7 June 2021
One of the most important molecules in cell membranes was recently discovered in an unexpected place: a dense cloud of dust and gas in space. Astronomers spotted the telltale spectral signature of a molecule called ethanolamine in a molecular cloud near the center of our galaxy. Using data from the IRAM and Yerkes radio telescopes, a Spanish-led team of astronomers was able to draw out ethanolamine, an important component of cell walls. Astrochemist and Lecturer, Dr Sergio Ioppolo of Queen Mary University London called these reactions "dark chemistry," because they happen in areas of space where stars haven't formed yet — such as cold, dark molecular clouds. In another study earlier this year, Ioppolo and his colleagues found that the amino acid glycine could also form on dust grains in the interstellar medium, under similar conditions.
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