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Chemicals common on Earth found around two young stars | NASA | US Space Agency | Vinegar

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Chemicals common on Earth found around two young stars | NASA | US Space Agency | Vinegar

Astronomers Use NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to Discover Potential Habitable Worlds Near Young Stars

Reported by Epoch Times reporter Li Yan

A recent observation conducted by an international team of astronomers using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has revealed potential habitable worlds in the vicinity of two young stars, IRAS 2A and IRAS 23385. The 15-micrometer wavelength image captured by the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the Webb telescope shows a region near the protostar IRAS 23385, located in the Milky Way approximately 15,981 light-years away from Earth.

The team of astronomers detected a variety of chemicals common on Earth, including acetic acid, ethanol, formic acid, sulfur dioxide, methane, and formaldehyde, in interstellar ice around the two protostars. These findings suggest that complex organic molecules, essential for supporting life, may already be present in early protostars that have not yet formed planets.

The discovery of these molecular compounds is significant as it could provide insights into the origins of life beyond Earth. Scientists believe that complex organic molecules trapped in cold ice could eventually be incorporated into comets or asteroids, which could collide with planets and potentially support life.

“This discovery helps solve a long-standing problem in astrochemistry,” said Will Rocha, the leader of the James Webb Observation of Young Protostars+ (JOYS+) team and a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands. “The detection of complex organic molecules in ice shows that solid-phase chemical reactions on the surface of cold dust particles can form these molecules.”

The study detailing these new discoveries about protostars has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Astronomers are looking forward to further investigating this astrochemical trajectory using more data from the Webb telescope in the coming years.

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As scientists continue to explore the universe and search for complex organic molecules in space, they hope to gain a better understanding of the ingredients necessary for life and the potential habitability of worlds beyond our own.

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