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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

DNA Molecules Discovered In Space




"Finding these molecules in an interstellar gas cloud means that important building blocks for DNA and amino acids can 'seed' newly-formed planets with the chemical precursors for life," said Anthony Remijan, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).


In the above video, students and their astronomer-adviser
share the excitement of discovery.

"We need to do further experiments to better understand how these reactions work, but it could be that some of the first key steps toward biological chemicals occurred on tiny ice grains," Remijan said.
The discoveries were made possible by new technology that speeds the process of identifying the "fingerprints" of cosmic chemicals. Each molecule has a specific set of rotational states that it can assume. When it changes from one state to another, a specific amount of energy is either emitted or absorbed, often as radio waves at specific frequencies that can be observed with the GBT.
New laboratory techniques have allowed astrochemists to measure the characteristic patterns of such radio frequencies for specific molecules. Armed with that information, they then can match that pattern with the data received by the telescope. Laboratories at the University of Virginia and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics measured radio emission from cyanomethanimine and ethanamine, and the frequency patterns from those molecules then were matched to publicly-available data produced by a survey done with the GBT from 2008 to 2011.
A team of undergraduate students participating in a special summer research program for minority students at the University of Virginia (U.Va.) conducted some of the experiments leading to the discovery of cyanomethanimine. The students worked under U.Va. professors Brooks Pate and Ed Murphy, and Remijan. The program, funded by the National Science Foundation, brought students from four universities for summer research experiences. They worked in Pate's astrochemistry laboratory, as well as with the GBT data.
"This is a pretty special discovery and proves that early-career students can do remarkable research," Pate said.
 
Structure of cyanomethanimine.Link to graphics of cynanomethanimine and adenine 


The Green Bank Telescope and some of the molecules it has discovered.
CREDIT: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.



Contributing sources:

DNA Molecules Discovered In Space - UFO News|UFOs 2012|Latest UFO Sightings|Alien Pictures|2013 Solar Strom|UFO 2013:

http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2013/newchem/

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