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In ancient Aram, the constellation was known as Nephila, Orion's descendants were known as Nephilim.
The stars were associated with Osiris, the god of rebirth and afterlife, by the ancient Egyptians.
Precursors of Life-Enabling Organic Molecules in Orion Nebula Unveiled by Herschel Space Observatory
ESA's Herschel Space Observatory has revealed the chemical fingerprints of potential life-enabling organic molecules in the Orion Nebula, a nearby stellar nursery in our Milky Way galaxy.
This nebula is known to be one of the most prolific chemical factories in space, although the full extent of its chemistry and the pathways for molecule formation are not well understood. By sifting through the pattern of spikes in this spectrum, astronomers have identified a few common molecules that appear everywhere in the spectrum. The identification of the many other emission lines is currently ongoing.
By clearly identifying the lines associated with the more common molecules, astronomers can then begin to tease out the signature of particularly interesting molecules that are the direct precursors to life-enabling molecules. A characteristic feature of the Orion spectrum is the spectral richness: among the molecules that can be identified in this spectrum are water, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, methanol, dimethyl ether, hydrogen cyanide, sulphur oxide, sulphur dioxide and their isotope analogues. It is expected that new organic molecules will also be identified.
A long-standing puzzle connected with the origin of life on Earth is why all of the amino acids in terrestrial organisms are "left-handed", or laevorotatory. One possible answer is that the choice was made, not on the Earth's surface, but long before the Earth and Sun even formed, by the action of ultraviolet light on interstellar molecules. Support for this view came with the 1995 discovery of excess left-handed amino acids in the Murchison meteorite1 and the 1998 discovery of polarized light in a star-forming region of the Orion Nebula. The existence of circular polarized light (in which the plane of polarization continuously changes) in the Orion gas clouds , by James Hough of the University of Hertfordshire and colleagues, using an instrument attached to the Anglo-Australian Telescope,2 is especially significant. Although the observations were made at infrared wavelengths, the team argues that ultraviolet light in the same region, which is obscured by the clouds, should be polarized as well. Ultraviolet light can force chemical reactions to make molecules of mostly one handedness instead of an even split between the two forms. Right-handed ultraviolet light destroys right-handed molecules, leaving an excess of left-handed ones, and vice versa.