We Might Be Aliens After-all, New Research Suggests


Life may have begun in the frigid vacuum of space, according to a recent research conducted by experts who found small organic molecules can form under these conditions. Scientists were able to prompt chemical reactions that resulted in the creation of the building blocks for early organisms in a simulated solar system.

Rather than starting here on Earth, the finding suggests that the compounds needed for proteins and carbohydrates to develop may be extra-terrestrial in origin. Researchers from the University of Sherbrooke in Canada recreated the conditions of outer space in the lab. Thin films of ice containing methane and oxygen were placed into a vacuum.
 
The research group found that a variety of small organic molecules were produced in icy films subjected to irradiation with electron beams. The finding suggests that the compounds needed for proteins and carbohydrates to develop may be extra terrestrial in origin
These ices were used to mimic materials found around dust grains in the dense and cold molecular clouds that exist in interstellar space. They can also be found around other objects in the solar system, such as comets, asteroids and moons.  Experts irradiated these ices with electron beams, as a stand in for the radiation they would experience in space. The research group found that a variety of small organic molecules were produced in the icy films subjected to this procedure.

In a written statement, a spokesman for the paper's authors said: 'All of these icy surfaces in space are subjected to multiple forms of radiation. This is often in the presence of magnetic fields, which accelerate charged particles from the stellar wind toward these frozen objects.  Previous studies investigated chemical reactions that might occur in space environments through the use of ultraviolet or other types of radiation, but this is a first detailed look at the role of secondary electrons.'


Copious amounts of secondary electrons are produced when high-energy radiation, such as X-rays or heavy particles, interact with matter.  These electrons, also known as low-energy electrons (LEES), are still energetic enough to induce chemical reactions. Propylene, ethane and acetylene were all formed in films of frozen methane exposed to LEES. 

When a frozen mixture of methane and oxygen was irradiated with LEEs, the team found direct evidence that ethanol was formed. Indirect evidence for many other small organic molecules, including methanol, acetic acid and formaldehyde was found. 

In addition, both X-rays and LEEs produced similar results, although at different rates. The full findings of the study were published in the Journal of Chemical Physics. 

Via DailyMail

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