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Organic Molecules Discovered in Interstellar Space

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posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 04:16 AM
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I just came across this article on ScienceMag regarding the discovery of organic material in deep space. Should be significant and interesting enough for a discussion on this forum, so I thought I'd share this information:


Carbon chains branch out on space dust

The largest noncyclic molecules detected in the interstellar medium (ISM) are organic with a straight-chain carbon backbone

(...) Belloche et al. used the ALMA telescope array in Chile to observe the massive star-forming region Sgr B2. There, the vast quantities of gas enabled detection of even sparsely distributed species such as iso-propyl cyanide. Despite being difficult to detect, such nonlinear organic molecules may be common. The formation of branched molecules is important, given the analogous structure of familiar amino acids — some of the building blocks for life.

Published in: Science, 26 September 2014 (Vol. 345 no. 6204 pp. 1584-1587)


While this may not be the kind of detection of extraterrestial life that some might hope for, it seems to be further proof for the fact that the building blocks of life are abundant throughout the universe. It also reminds me of the more recent reports about organics discovered on the outside of the International Space Station (and the discoveries by the Spitzer Space Telescope back in 2005).

Just thought I'd share this (very) interesting bit of information to see what others on here might think or know about the relevance of such findings.


Sources & Links:
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1. Abstract on ScienceMag
2. Image Source
edit on 26-9-2014 by jeep3r because: text & formatting




posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 04:54 AM
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a reply to: jeep3r

Ah yes, the new definition of organic, which used to be a word which, rather sensibly, used to refer only to things either comprising, or previously a part of an organism, but now refers to most carbons.

I hate that they changed the meaning of that word. It gives an improper impression of the facts to suggest that organic matter has been detected in the interstellar medium. To clarify, the material they are talking about may not ever have been a part of an organism. The dilution of the terminology we use to talk about these things, does not assist us in communicating effectively on topics like this.

That said, the spread of complex carbon chains in the medium is of interest, and does imply a certain abundance. I will have to keep abreast of these developments.

edit on 26-9-2014 by TrueBrit because: Spelling error correction.



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 05:09 AM
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originally posted by: TrueBrit
a reply to: jeep3r

Ah yes, the new definition of organic, which used to be a word which, rather sensibly, used to refer only to things either comprising, or previously a part of an organism, but now refers to most carbons.


Interesting, although I do hope that this is not just about mainstream science marketing (and altering traditional definitions) in order to get further funding and to increase the importance of their field.

But since this article has been peer-reviewed, I'm quite sure that their definition of 'organic' accords to what is broadly accepted by the science community regarding the 'specs' of organic molecules and, thus, the building blocks of life ... thanks, though, for your personal take on this article.



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 05:24 AM
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originally posted by: TrueBrit

That said, the spread of complex carbon chains in the medium is of interest, and does imply a certain abundance. I will have to keep abreast of these developments.



It does imply that the complex nature of the chains isn't so uncommon. Amino acids in comets and now this. What will they find next?

Some might get the impression that God/Nature/Great Spirit - Whatever- gets the ball rolling in space before it ends up in some planet's primordial ocean.



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 05:34 AM
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a reply to: SLAYER69

At least the branching characteristic of this particular molecule has never been observed in deep space before. Here goes another image & a related article from the Max-Planck-Institute:




Interstellar molecules are branching out

The molecule, iso-propyl cyanide (i-C3H7CN), was discovered in a giant gas cloud called Sagittarius B2 (...) The branched structure of the carbon atoms within the iso-propyl cyanide molecule is unlike the straight-chain carbon backbone of other molecules that have been detected so far

(...) The discovery of iso-propyl cyanide opens a new frontier in the complexity of molecules found in regions of star formation


So I guess all this is thoroughly validated and indeed something new and unexpected.



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 06:10 AM
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a reply to: SLAYER69

I am with you on that.

Whether it arrives on a comet, or gets issued forth from some other source, the chemical building blocks for life get around somewhere, and come into existence somehow. I wonder how far along we will get before the chicken becomes the egg?



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 06:15 AM
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a reply to: jeep3r

I am about as interested in the methods they use for detection as I am in the findings. Not to long ago they found a huge cloud of alcohol and one of the latest finding with regards to water on planet earth is some large percentage is older than the earth itself.. When I was a kid, long, long, ago in a country far, far, away I remember thinking we would be colonizing the solar system by now... No such luck; we evidently have our priorities placed in a different direction... or our collective brain power is insufficient for the task ..



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 06:54 AM
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a reply to: jeep3r

Interesting it is, but the presence of organic compounds in interstellar space has been known since the 1930s.


The first carbon-containing molecule detected in the interstellar medium was the methylidyne radical (CH) in 1937. From the early 1970s it was becoming evident that interstellar dust consisted of a large component of more complex organic molecules, probably polymers. Chandra Wickramasinghe proposed the existence of polymeric composition based on the molecule formaldehyde (H2CO). Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe later proposed the identification of bicyclic aromatic compounds from an analysis of the ultraviolet extinction absorption at 2175A., thus demonstrating the existence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules in space.

In 2004, scientists reported detecting the spectral signatures of anthracene and pyrene in the ultraviolet light emitted by the Red Rectangle nebula (no other such complex molecules had ever been found before in outer space)...

In 2010, fullerenes (or "buckyballs") were detected in nebulae. Fullerenes have been implicated in the origin of life; according to astronomer Letizia Stanghellini, "It's possible that buckyballs from outer space provided seeds for life on Earth. Source


*


reply to 727sky


I am about as interested in the methods they use for detection as I am in the findings.

Absorption spectroscopy



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 06:57 AM
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originally posted by: TrueBrit
a reply to: jeep3r

Ah yes, the new definition of organic, which used to be a word which, rather sensibly, used to refer only to things either comprising, or previously a part of an organism, but now refers to most carbons.

I hate that they changed the meaning of that word. It gives an improper impression of the facts to suggest that organic matter has been detected in the interstellar medium. To clarify, the material they are talking about may not ever have been a part of an organism. The dilution of the terminology we use to talk about these things, does not assist us in communicating effectively on topics like this.

That said, the spread of complex carbon chains in the medium is of interest, and does imply a certain abundance. I will have to keep abreast of these developments.


I don't believe anybody has been changing the meaning of words, in chemistry organic compounds are simply those that contain carbon. In generic terms organic means part/from a living creature. I think it's been that way for around 100 years, but I could be wrong and am open to some evidence to the contrary.

Many words have different meanings across different fields, or in the professional world vs the "normal" world. Organic happens to be one of them!



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 07:00 AM
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a reply to: James1982


I don't believe anybody has been changing the meaning of words

They did, but not very recently. I believe the change occurred with the advent of industrial chemistry somewhere in the early-to-mid twentieth century.



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 07:01 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax




Interesting it is, but the presence of organic compounds in interstellar space has been known since the 1930s.

so another way of looking at is "life is the norm" has been known for quite sometime



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 07:09 AM
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a reply to: hopenotfeariswhatweneed

Organic compounds are not life and do not require the presence of life to form. I am warm towards the idea of the ubiquity of life in the cosmos, but I'm afraid this isn't evidence for it. Sorry to disappoint.



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 07:23 AM
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originally posted by: Astyanax
a reply to: hopenotfeariswhatweneed

Organic compounds are not life and do not require the presence of life to form. I am warm towards the idea of the ubiquity of life in the cosmos, but I'm afraid this isn't evidence for it. Sorry to disappoint.



it is only a matter of time till we figure it out...either way it is interesting



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 07:29 AM
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a reply to: James1982

dictionary.reference.com...

As you will see in the above link, the meaning of organic HAS been modified in relatively recent times, previously having been used to describe a class of chemical compounds derived from organisms, but which now refers to all other carbon compounds as well.
edit on 26-9-2014 by TrueBrit because: Grammar and spelling error removal.



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 09:08 AM
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originally posted by: TrueBrit
a reply to: James1982

dictionary.reference.com...

As you will see in the above link, the meaning of organic HAS been modified in relatively recent times, previously having been used to describe a class of chemical compounds derived from organisms, but which now refers to all other carbon compounds as well.


None of us were alive when the old meaning was in official use so it just seemed odd to be upset about a change that you weren't around to see. I wasn't sure if you thought it was something changed within the last 20 years or something so I was just pointing out that the meaning has been fixed for awhile now.


originally posted by: Astyanax
a reply to: James1982


I don't believe anybody has been changing the meaning of words

They did, but not very recently. I believe the change occurred with the advent of industrial chemistry somewhere in the early-to-mid twentieth century.


I did mention "within the last 100 years" in my post



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 09:21 AM
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a reply to: James1982

Hmmm... well, I am surprised by that. They were still teaching the original definition in my senior school when I started there, about eighteen years back! That is now number 9568 on the list of reasons why I hate the place and near enough everyone who ever worked there.



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 11:27 AM
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a reply to: TrueBrit

Perhaps you might want to check on the history of the term "organic compound."

Friedrich Wöhler may be of interest. His synthesis of urea might be considered the separation of the term from biology.
edit on 9/26/2014 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 11:28 AM
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a reply to: Phage

I might have to!

Thanks for the suggestion Phage!



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 01:32 PM
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a reply to: this thread

ETA: the main reason why this appears to be major news is this:

The detection of interstellar molecules that are 'branching out' strongly suggests that amino-acids will also be found very soon (throughout the universe) simply because they have the same kind of 'branching' characteristics. And such amino-acids are a key ingredient for life as we know it.

Of course, the search for organic molecules has already been going on since the 1960s, but because of the above explanation, these findings seem to be of great importance for the field of radio astronomy (and related sciences).

Source
edit on 26-9-2014 by jeep3r because: text



posted on Sep, 26 2014 @ 01:40 PM
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originally posted by: TrueBrit
a reply to: jeep3r

Ah yes, the new definition of organic, which used to be a word which, rather sensibly, used to refer only to things either comprising, or previously a part of an organism, but now refers to most carbons.


Eh? Organic chemistry is and always has been the chemistry of Carbon atoms.
edit on 26/9/2014 by yorkshirelad because: oops spelling



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