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Molecular Space Cloud

July 24, 2008

Scientists are looking for organic molecules floating in our Milky Way.


Seeds of life in space. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

There’s growing evidence that life on Earth may have started with organic chemicals from outer space. Now, scientists are using the massive Green Bank Telescope to find those molecules in our Milky Way today. Anthony Remijan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory says they’re studying a rich cloud of gas and dust, like the one that formed our solar system long ago.

There must have been complex organic molecules in that cloud in order to seed the molecular complexity we see in the solar system today. We just haven’t had the instruments yet to detect these large molecules until now.

They’re surveying the cloud across a wide range of radio frequencies. Then they’ll look through the data for distinct radio signatures that are unique to each organic molecule. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.