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Astronomers report a surprising discovery – observation dazzles experts

Astronomers report a surprising discovery – observation dazzles experts

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Astronomers using the James Webb Space Telescope have discovered the presence of alcohol in protostars, a crucial element for the emergence of life.

LEIden – An international team of astronomers using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has discovered a variety of molecules in protostars. These include simple molecules such as methane and more complex compounds such as acetic acid and ethanol, i.e. alcohol. These are the most important ingredients for the formation of potentially habitable planets. ESA will provide information about this at a meeting specially prepared for JWST website.

The particles were detected as icy compounds near the stars IRAS 2A and IRAS 23385. These are stars that are still forming. They are so young that no planets have formed around them yet. The protostar IRAS 23385 is estimated to be located 15,981 light-years from Earth in the Milky Way.

Astronomers are thrilled: the discovery provides information about planetary formation

The new observation has intrigued astronomers because molecules detected around stars could be crucial components of potentially habitable planets made of stars. The Earth was created by a certain combination of elements that made life possible.

The protostar IRAS 23385, in whose vicinity researchers detected alcohol and acetic acid, is part of the Milky Way. (Archive photo) © imago/Westend61

The discovery of complex organic molecules in the universe also helps astronomers determine the origin of these larger cosmic molecules. Chemicals found around protostars may reflect the early history of our solar system, allowing astronomers to look back at the formation of the Sun and the planets that orbit it.

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Discovery of alcohol in protostars could answer oldest questions in astrochemistry

“This discovery contributes to answering one of the oldest questions in astrochemistry: what is the origin of complex organic molecules in space?” Will Roscha, team leader of the James Webb Observations of Young Protostars program and a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University, ESA, explains. statement.

“All of these molecules could become part of comets, asteroids and eventually new planetary systems,” said study co-author Ewen van Dischock, professor of molecular astrophysics at Leiden University. “We look forward to following this astrochemical path step by step with additional Webb data in the coming years.”

NASA recently made another pioneering discovery. (Law)