Awesome find! James Webb Telescope discovers building blocks of life in cloud, says NASA | Tech News

Awesome find! James Webb Telescope discovers building blocks of life in cloud, says NASA

NASA astronomers have discovered the fundamental building blocks of life in a dense molecular cloud.

| Updated on: Jan 24 2023, 15:54 IST
Top astronomy photos of the week by NASA: Galaxy wars, Nebula, Moon to Sun, check them out
NASA molecular cloud
1/7 On January 14, NASA released an image of Perihelion Sun 2023, the image was taken after January 4, at the Earth's closest approach to the Sun. It was taken less than 24 hours after the earth's close approach. (Peter Ward (Barden Ridge Observatory))
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2/7 On January 15, another photograph was released of The Crab Nebula snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. ( NASA, ESA, Hubble, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU))
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3/7 On January 16, NASA released an image of Moon Enhanced. The featured image is a composite of multiple images enhanced to bring up real surface features. The dark areas in the image, called maria, have fewer craters and were once seas of molten lava. Additionally, the image colours, although based on the moon's real composition, are changed, and exaggerated. (Darya Kawa Mirza)
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4/7 On January 17, the image of unexpected clouds toward the Andromeda Galaxy was released. (Yann Sainty & Marcel Drechsler)
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5/7 Image of MACS0647: Gravitational Lensing of the Early Universe Captured by James Webb Space Telescope was released by NASA on January 18. ( NASA, ESA, CSA, Dan Coe (STScI), Rebecca Larson (UT), Yu-Yang Hsiao (JHU); Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI); Text: Michael Rutkowski (Minn. St. U. Mankato))
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6/7 On January 19, the image of The Seagull Nebula was released. The complex of gas and dust clouds with other stars of the Canis Majoris OB1 association spans over 200 light-years. (Carlos Taylor)
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7/7 Galaxy Wars: M81 and M82, this image was released on January 20. On the right, with grand spiral arms and bright yellow core is spiral galaxy M81.  (Andreas Aufschnaiter)
NASA molecular cloud
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The molecules of different substances were found in a molecular cloud. (NASA/ESA/James Webb Telescope)

Mankind has been in search of potential planets which could support life one day should the need to ever leave Earth arise. Although there are more planets in the Universe than you could ever imagine, they all have one substance missing which makes our Blue Planet so unique – Water, which is the elixir of life behind every living being on planet Earth. Although it is one of the building blocks of life, a habitable planet is made up of several key elements. They are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur, commonly referred to as CHONS.

For life to exist, essential molecular ingredients of life are formed in dense molecular clouds which incorporate into planet-forming regions of disks as the time goes on. Now a team of astronomers, with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope, has discovered the fundamental building blocks of life in a molecular cloud. It has obtained an in-depth inventory of the deepest, coldest ices measured to date in a molecular cloud. In addition to water, the team was able to identify frozen forms of molecules such as carbonyl sulfide, ammonia, and methane and methanol. The results of the study were published in the January 23 edition of the issue of Nature Astronomy.

What researchers say

Melissa McClure, an astronomer at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, the principal investigator of the observing program and lead author of the paper said in a NASA blog, “Our results provide insights into the initial, dark chemistry stage of the formation of ice on the interstellar dust grains that will grow into the centimeter-sized pebbles from which planets form in disks.

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“These observations open a new window on the formation pathways for the simple and complex molecules that are needed to make the building blocks of life,” she added further.

In addition to the above-mentioned molecules, the team of researchers also found molecules which are more complex than methanol. According to NASA, this proves that complex molecules form in the icy depths of molecular clouds before stars are born.

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First Published Date: 24 Jan, 15:49 IST