Alien Life In Our Galaxy ‘More Likely Than Scientists Previously Thought’, New Research Suggests
In light of new research, scientists believe that life in our galaxy could be 100 times more likely than previously thought.
The molecules needed to form life in the universe have been found in ‘significant reservoirs’, meaning that the basic conditions that helped to form life on Earth could exist elsewhere.
The large organic molecules found are being described as the ‘stepping stones’ between simple carbon structures and more complex molecules, and were spotted in protoplanetary disks surrounding newly-formed stars.
In the wake of this discovery, studies have been conducted showing that these ‘raw ingredients’ can create sugars, amino acids and even the components of ribonucleic acid (RNA) – a key component of the helix in DNA.
As to how and why the protoplanetary disks contain these molecules, it’s believed that Earth ended up with this material as a result of the impacts of asteroids and comets. It’s unclear if all disks contain these molecules, however.
In a bid to find out how many protoplanetary disks had the vital molecules needed to create life, researchers from the University of Leeds looked into the matter to try to identify three molecules – cyanoacetylene (HC3N), acetonitrile (CH3CN), and cyclopropenylidene (c-C3H2) – in disks located between 300 and 500 light-years from our planet, Independent reports.
Four of the five disks observed were found to have these molecules.
Speaking of the discovery, Dr John Ilee from the University of Leeds, said:
Our analysis shows that the molecules are primarily located in these inner regions with abundances between 10 and 100 times higher than models had predicted.
He also credited the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA), a radio telescope in Chile, in assisting their efforts in locating these molecules ‘for the first time’.
In regards to alien life, researchers found that the regions where the molecules were located were also the same as where asteroids and comets come from, meaning the process that happened on Earth to create life could occur on other planets as well.
Dr Catherine Walsh, from the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said, ‘The key result of this work shows that the same ingredients needed for seeding life on our planet are also found around other stars. It is possible that the molecules that are needed to kick-start life on planets are readily available in all planet-forming environments.’
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