Astronomers to search for precursors to life in cosmic dustMay 6th, 2009 - 1:49 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, May 6 (ANI): A University of Michigan astronomer has decided to use the Herschel Space Observatory to study the organic molecules that make up life on Earth in new detail in the warm clouds of gas and dust around young stars.
The astronomer in question is Ted Bergin, an associate professor in the Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan.
He hopes to gain insights into how organic molecules form in space, and possibly, how life formed on Earth.
“The chemistry of space makes molecules that are the precursors of life. It’s possible that the Earth didn’t have to make these things on its own, but that they were provided from space,” said Bergin.
Herschel, a European Space Agency mission with NASA participation, is scheduled to launch on May 14.
An orbiting telescope that will unlock new wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum, it will allow astronomers to observe at the far-infrared wavelengths where organic molecules and water emit their chemical signatures.
“We’ll be studying the full extent of chemistry in space and we hope to learn what types of organics are out there as a function of their distance from a star,” Bergin said. “And we want to understand the chemical machinery that led to the formation of these organics,” he added.
In faraway galaxies and stellar nurseries, astronomers have detected complex organic sugar and hydrocarbon molecules that are key components in chlorophyll in plants and RNA.
Bergin expects to detect tens if not hundreds of these kinds of compounds - some of which have never been found before outside the Earth. (ANI)
- Cloud that can hold water for ages - Oct 21, 2011
- Astronomers find hot water vapour around a carbon star - Sep 15, 2010
- New way to peer at hidden distant galaxies - Nov 05, 2010
- Asteroid shows power to synthesise life's essential chemicals - May 05, 2011
- Herschel space telescope observes biggest star's death throes - Nov 28, 2009
- Data from Herschel to shed new light on star formation in nearby galaxies - Dec 02, 2009
- Venus has an ozone layer too - Oct 10, 2011
- New kind of optical fiber paves way for improved surgical and medical lasers - Feb 26, 2011
- World's largest telescope spells golden age of astronomy - Dec 03, 2009
- Herschel's first insight into space reveals spectacular results - Jul 11, 2009
- Spitzer telescope finds distant planet that lacks methane - Apr 22, 2010
- Ultraviolet starlight key to make water in space - Sep 03, 2010
- Indian astronomy satellite to study universe at multi-wavelengths - Jul 16, 2012
- Glistening galaxies tend to cluster in busiest parts of universe - May 21, 2010
- New laser can detect roadside bombs - Sep 18, 2011
Tags: chemical machinery, chemical signatures, chlorophyll, cosmic dust, electromagnetic spectrum, european space agency, faraway galaxies, hydrocarbon molecules, infrared wavelengths, kinds of compounds, life on earth, nasa, organic molecules, organic sugar, space agency mission, space observatory, stellar nurseries, ted bergin, warm clouds, young stars