Lifeâ€™s Building Blocks Grow Close to Home
Though life is a complicated brew, some of its ingredients can be plucked from Earthâ€™s backyard instead of being imported from more distant interstellar fields.
In a new study, scientists suggest that complex organic molecules â€” such as the amino acids that build proteins and the ringed bases that form nucleic acids â€” grow on the icy dust grains that lived in the infant solar system. All it takes are high-energy ultraviolet photons to provoke the rearrangement of chemical elements in the grainsâ€™ frozen sheaths. If making these organic ingredients happens this readily, then exoplanetary systems are probably seeded with the same fertile, organic pastures.