Life’s Building Blocks Grow Close to Home
Though life is a complicated brew, some of its ingredients can be plucked from Earth’s backyard instead of being imported from more distant interstellar fields.
In a new study, scientists suggest that complex organic molecules — such as the amino acids that build proteins and the ringed bases that form nucleic acids — 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 grains’ frozen sheaths. If making these organic ingredients happens this readily, then exoplanetary systems are probably seeded with the same fertile, organic pastures.