Scientists have made a new discovery that might suggest that life started out not with a bang but thanks to starlight.
As even after all this time the origin of life and of the things surrounding us has remained a mystery, scientists may have come with a breakthrough as to the actual physical means in which everything came to be.
No matter the shape, form or size, all organisms can be broken down into a simple structure which implies carbon atoms been connected to oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and so on. The exact way in which these fundamental substances appear and combine has long since been a matter of debate and mystery.
Herschel Observatory, part of the European Space Agency, may just about bring us closer to an answer after newly gathered data has shown that star generated ultraviolet light may have an important role in the substances’ creation, data that contradicts the previously accepted idea of the “shock” birth.
Recent observations of the Orion Nebula, the closest massive star-forming region to Earth, are thought to show that the ultraviolet light or starlight, generated by stars is the propelling element behind the formation of precursor chemicals, or in other words, of life’s building blocks.
Researchers gathered and analyzed the region’s carbon chemistry, the carbon-ion (C+) and its products the carbon-hydrogen positive ion (CH+) and carbon-hydrogen (CH) molecules’ temperature, amount, and motions have been captured and mapped out.
As the Orion Nebula is an area rich in hydrogen gas, the starlight originating from the region’s huge stars could potentially heat up the surrounding hydrogen molecules which would, in turn, favor the creation of hydrocarbons.
CH+ is then formed after carbon ions, which formed initially in stars, react with the molecular hydrogen. The final, neutral molecule of CH is formed after the CH+ encases an electron.
Previous molecular formation models combined with the data gathered by the Herschel Observatory led to the conclusion that the formation of hydrocarbons in the region can be best explained after having factored in starlight, or ultraviolet light.
Although the mystery stands as to how certain molecules situated in a galaxy’s core get excited, researchers are confident that the new study may come as a step forward in the search for an explanation as to how life’s element get born or formed.
The starlight study could also help explain how basic hydrocarbons are created in other galaxies besides the Orion Nebula, and could also be the clue that scientists were looking for when searching for the motive of the molecule’s excitation.
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