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Image composite du disque protoplanètaire autour de l'étoile Oph-IRS 48. © Alma (ESO, NAOJ, NRAO), A. Pohl, van der Marel et al., Brunken et al.

The largest building block in the chemistry of life has been discovered in a protoplanetary disk

Almost eleven years ago and indeed, using the network radio telescope Alma (Large Atacama Group Millimeter / Meter) in Chile, astrophysicists brought to the fore protoplanetary disk From the star Oph-IRS 48 located at about 444 light years The the sun In the Ophiuchus. “Oph” refers to the serpent-bearing constellation Ophiuchus, while IRS refers to the source Infrared As Futura explained in an article that we are partially reproducing today. Notes made using VLT (very large telescope) From’ESOBefore Alma, we were in the presence of a disk perforated with a central hole, probably formed by an invisible planet Collective Estimated ten times JupiterUnless it’s another star.

Later ALMA observations then revealed instead of the ring that radio astronomers expected to see cashew nut Which soon turned out to be most likely observational evidence that was lacking so far in the model that was introduced in 1995 by Pierre Barge Then stationed in a laboratoryAstrophysics from Marseille (lam) And by his colleague Joel Sumeria Then from the Laboratory of Geophysical and Industrial Flows in Grenoble (leggy). This model indicates that whirlwinds Giant gases are responsible for capturing and containing the dust in the disk Gas that surrounds the star, so efficiently in the formation of comets Even planets will become possible. He postulates the existence of anti-vortex vortices, which are the only vortices capable of surviving without being ruptured by the rotation of the disk.

I asked Futura Pierre Barge at that time to talk to us in more detail about the model he proposed with Joël Sommeria and the problems it was supposed to solve cosmology Planets, which he did in an open interview in who are they Elements .

Of-IRS 48 & External Biology

Today is rather exogenous biology which is influenced by the new observations made with Alma and thus again Oph-IRS 48. As described in a press release from Eso, and as evidenced by the accompanying article published in Astronomy and astrophysicsresearchers from the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands were the ones behind the new discovery, which is the biggest discovery compound It is identified in a protoplanetary disk, plus it is organic because it is methoxymethane with the formula CH3OCH3.

However, this molecule has been shown to be a precursor allowing to appear in chimical interaction From prebiotic molecules Larger sizes can be used for a life look. We already knew about the existence of this molecule and the molecule associated with itexogenous biology at clouds We know that stars are born surrounded by protoplanetary disks. But this is the first time that it has been demonstrated that this molecule can also be found in such a disc, and therefore it is also likely to be present in outer planets Able to give birth and develop life forms similar to those we know on Earth.

Thanks to these results, we can learn more about the origin of life on our planet, and thus have a better idea of ​​the potential for life in other planetary systems. It is interesting to see how these results fit into the bigger picture. Moreover, in this regard, Nashanti Bronken, a master’s student at the Leiden Observatory and lead author of the published study, said in the Eso press release.

In fact, it is expected in the coming years to start runningELT (very large telescope), in Korean Construction In Chile, let’s go further in the astrochemical studies of the disk around Oph-IRS 48 and more precisely in its interior, where exoterres can appear.

Prebiotic molecules in ice

Decades ago, radio astronomers demonstrated that studying the astrochemistry of molecular clouds and dust was amazing. In addition to hydrogen, silicate and carbonic dust particles, more than 120 simple organic molecules have been detected there. The design From this astrochemistry and observational data indicate that the dust is surrounded by a slice of water ice where these simple particles, such as Carbon Monoxide (collar’ammonia (NH3) and methane (CH .)4) and methanol (CH .)3oh formaldehyde (h2CO) orsour Formic acid (HCOOH), formed and reacted with each other under the influence of photons ultraviolet Young stars are born in these clouds.

We know that carbonaceous meteorites contain organic molecules that can be considered life bricksFrom sugars and the amino acids Especially. But meteorites formed from dust in molecular clouds. So there are all chemistry Prebiotics that could determine the appearance of life on rocky exoplanets ranging from molecular clouds to the protoplanetary disks that consist of these clouds.

However, it was recently shown that the dust trap previously detected at Oph-IRS 48 by ALMA contains fine dust surrounded by ice and in this region ALMA’s observations revealed the presence of the methoxymethane molecule.

So we understand the statements of Alice Booth, also a researcher at the Leiden Observatory and co-author of the published article: What makes this discovery even more exciting is that we now know that these larger, more complex particles are available to power planets forming in the disk. This was not previously known because in most systems these particles are hidden in the ice “.

We also understand what his colleague Nienke van der Marel said: “ We are very excited to be able to begin tracing the full path of these complex particles, from the clouds that form stars to comets, through to the disks that form the planets. We hope that with more observations, we can come closer to understanding the origin of molecules Prebiotics in our solar system “.

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