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The Discovery of Complex Organic Matter in the Universe

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  • derhexer@aol.com
    URL to fascinating article from the Daily Galaxy http://tinyurl.com/c4alq32 Fred Hoyle proposed something like this in his book Lifecloud. But to actually
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2012
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      URL to fascinating article from the Daily Galaxy
      http://tinyurl.com/c4alq32

      Fred Hoyle proposed something like this in his book Lifecloud. But to
      actually find that complex organic compounds are being created in the
      atmosphere of stars is humbling. Truly, we are star stuff

      First few paragraphs
      "This past October astronomers reported that organic compounds of
      unexpected complexity exist throughout the Universe. The results suggest that
      complex organic compounds are not the sole domain of life, but can be made
      naturally by stars.
      Prof. _Sun Kwok_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Kwok) and Dr. Yong
      Zhang of the _University of Hong Kong_
      (http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=22.2841666667,114.137777778&spn=0.01,0.01&q=22.2841666667,114.137777778
      (University%20of%20Hong%20Kong)&t=h) showed that an _organic substance_
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_compound) commonly found throughout the Universe
      contains a mixture of aromatic (ring-like) and aliphatic (chain-like)
      components. The compounds are so complex that their _chemical structures_
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_structure) resemble those of coal and
      petroleum. Since coal and oil are remnants of ancient life, this type of organic
      matter was thought to arise only from living organisms. The team's discovery
      suggests that complex organic compounds can be synthesized in space even
      when no life forms are present.
      The researchers investigated an unsolved phenomenon: a set of infrared
      emissions detected in stars, interstellar space, and galaxies. These spectral
      signatures are known as "Unidentified Infrared Emission features".
      For over two decades, the most commonly accepted theory on the origin of
      these signatures has been that they come from simple organic molecules made
      of carbon and hydrogen atoms, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (_PAH_
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycyclic_aromatic_hydrocarbon) ) molecules.
      From observations taken by the _Infrared Space Observatory_
      (http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2012/05/astronomers-predict-90-of-distant-galaxies-in-
      universe-unseen-.html) and the _Spitzer Space Telescope_
      (http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/) , Kwok and Zhang showed that the astronomical spectra have
      features that cannot be explained by PAH molecules.
      Instead, the team proposed that the substances generating these infrared
      emissions have chemical structures that are much more complex. By analyzing
      spectra of star dust formed in exploding stars called novae, they show that
      stars are making these complex organic compounds on extremely short time
      scales of weeks.
      Not only are stars producing this complex organic matter, they are also
      ejecting it into the general interstellar space, the region between stars. The
      work supports an earlier idea proposed by Kwok that old stars are
      molecular factories capable of manufacturing organic compounds."
      Chris


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