Discovery of a new key mechanism for astrobiology

Finding the origins of life is not an easy matter. This is also a field where a lot of theories abound, each researcher wanting to give a rational explanation to the mechanisms that allow life to appear in the universe.

That said, since the advent of astrobiology, water and the question of its abundance have always been crucial. Finally, until now since a team of researchers have just highlighted a process during which water is ultimately not such a determining factor as that in the constitution of one of the famous building blocks which can lead at the appearance of life, the amino acid.

These researchers have indeed shown that amino-ketene, a chemical precursor, that is to say a molecule which is used for the formation of amino acids, can be synthesized under conditions similar to those found in interstellar clouds. A research work that was the subject of an article recently published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Drastic conditions that surprised the researchers themselves

Broadly, these researchers found that under the conditions prevailing in cosmic dust clouds – ridiculous atmospheric pressure, a temperature of – 263°C, and the presence of simple elements such as carbon, ammonia (NH3) and carbon monoxide (CO) – amino-ketene was formed.

It is this highly reactive molecule which apparently then led to the formation of glycine (an essential amino acid), better to polymers of glycine (some chains even being made up of 11 such amino acids). And this, in conditions that surprised the researchers themselves.

In order to fully understand the scope of this discovery, it should be known that most of the theories circulating in the field of astrobiology grant water (H2O) a place of choice in the chemical processes leading to the formation of the essential elements for the appearance of life, namely amino acids.

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A revolutionary mechanism to explain the origin of life

Simply put, amino acids are the molecules that make up peptides and proteins. This is why researchers call amino acids the building blocks of life. And wisteria is obviously part of this group.

But here it is, it has been thought until now that the presence of water played an essential role in the process of amino acid formation. A thesis today taken in opposition to this recent discovery.

Thus, for these researchers, once these amino acids (and these peptide chains) have formed, it would not be inconceivable that once transported to the rocky planets located in habitable zones of the universe, the process would then do its thing. of path and leads to the appearance of life.

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