Goodobs

Life’s first handshake

By  | January 10, 2019 | Filed under: Interesting Facts, News
The white features in the composite image are the bright radio sources in the center of our Galaxy as seen with the VLA. The background image is from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The two "handed" versions of propylene oxide are illustrated. The "R" and "S" designations are for the Latin terms rectus (right) and sinister (left).

The white features in the composite image are the bright radio sources in the center of our Galaxy as seen with the VLA. The background image is from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The two “handed” versions of propylene oxide are illustrated. The “R” and “S” designations are for the Latin terms rectus (right) and sinister (left).

Like a pair of human hands, certain organic molecules have mirror-image versions of themselves, a chemical property known as chirality. These so-called “handed” molecules are essential for biology and have intriguingly been found in meteorites on Earth and comets in our Solar System. None, however, has been detected in the vast reaches of interstellar space, until now.

A team of scientists using highly sensitive radio telescopes has discovered the first complex organic chiral molecule in interstellar space. The molecule, propylene oxide (CH3CHOCH2), was found near the center of our Galaxy in an enormous star-forming cloud of dust and gas known as Sagittarius B2 (Sgr B2).

“This is the first molecule detected in interstellar space that has the property of chirality, making it a pioneering leap forward in our understanding of how prebiotic molecules are made in the Universe and the effects they may have on the origins of life,” said Brett McGuire, a chemist and Jansky Postdoctoral Fellow with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

By discovering a chiral molecule in space, we finally have a way to study where and how these molecules form before they find their way into meteorites and comets, and to understand the role they play in the origins of homochirality and life.

source:  ScienceDaily

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