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ALMA Finds Ingredient of Life Around Infant Sun-like Stars

ALMA has observed stars like the Sun at a very early stage in their formation and found traces of methyl isocyanate - a chemical building block of life. This is the first ever detection of this prebiotic molecule towards solar-type protostars, the sort from which our Solar System evolved. The discovery could help astronomers understand how life arose on Earth.
Two teams of astronomers have harnessed the power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile to detect the prebiotic complex organic molecule methyl isocyanate in the multiple star system IRAS 16293-2422. One team was co-led by Rafael Martín-Doménech at the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid, Spain, and Víctor M. Rivilla, at the INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri in Florence, Italy; and the other by Niels Ligterink at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands and Audrey Coutens at University College London, United Kingdom.

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Comet impacts cook up 'soup of life'

New results show how collisions between comets and planets can make molecules that are the essential building blocks of life.
This suggests that the chemistry needed to gather the molecular ingredients for life could be more common than previously recognised.
Earth scientists from Japan carried out experiments to mimic comet impacts that occurred on early Earth. They found chemical reactions to make the primordial "soup for life" can occur anywhere that comets collide.

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A Hot Start to the Origin of Life?

DNA is synonymous with life, but where did it originate? One way to answer this question is to try to recreate the conditions that formed DNA's molecular precursors. These precursors are carbon ring structures with embedded nitrogen atoms, key components of nucleobases, which themselves are building blocks of the double helix.
Now, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) and the University of Hawaii at Manoa have shown for the first time that cosmic hot spots, such as those near stars, could be excellent environments for the creation of these nitrogen-containing molecular rings.

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Title: LIFE ON EARTH -- AN ACCIDENT? Chiral Symmetry and the Anthropic Principle
Author: Ulf-G. Meißner (for the NLEFT Collaboration)

I discuss the fine-tuning of the nuclear forces and in the formation of nuclei in the production of the elements in the Big Bang and in stars.

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A USF researcher is part of a team that determined life-producing phosphorus was carried to Earth by meteorites.

Scientists may not know for certain whether life exists in outer space, but new research from a team of scientists led by a University of South Florida astrobiologist now shows that one key element that produced life on Earth was carried here on meteorites.
In an article published in the new edition of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, USF Assistant Professor of Geology Matthew Pasek and researchers from the University of Washington and the Edinburg Centre for Carbon Innovation, revealed new findings that explain how the reactive phosphorus that was an essential component for creating the earliest life forms came to Earth.

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Power behind primordial soup discovered

Researchers at the University of Leeds may have solved a key puzzle about how objects from space could have kindled life on Earth.
While it is generally accepted that some important ingredients for life came from meteorites bombarding the early Earth, scientists have not been able to explain how that inanimate rock transformed into the building blocks of life.
This new study shows how a chemical, similar to one now found in all living cells and vital for generating the energy that makes something alive, could have been created when meteorites containing phosphorus minerals landed in hot, acidic pools of liquids around volcanoes, which were likely to have been common across the early Earth.

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NASA Innovator of Year Hunts for Extraterrestrial Amino Acids

The hunt for the organic molecules that create proteins and enzymes critical for life here on Earth has largely happened in sophisticated terrestrial laboratories equipped with high-tech gadgetry needed to tease out their presence in space rocks and other extraterrestrial samples.
A technologist at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Md., now wants to take that search to the sources themselves.
Stephanie Getty, who recently was selected as Goddards Innovator of the Year for her trailblazing work in the area of advanced instrumentation, has won $1.2 million from NASAs Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development (ASTID) program to advance the Organics Analyzer for Sampling Icy Surfaces (OASIS).

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Researchers Brew Up Organics on Ice

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are creating concoctions of organics, or carbon-bearing molecules, on ice in the lab, then zapping them with lasers. Their goal: to better understand how life arose on Earth.
In a new study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the research team provides the first direct look at the organic chemistry that takes place on icy particles in the frigid reaches of our solar system, and in the even chillier places between stars. Scientists think that the basic ingredients of life, including water and organics, began their journey to Earth on these lonesome ice particles. The ice and organics would have found their way into comets and asteroids, which then fell to Earth, delivering "prebiotic" ingredients that could have jump-started life.

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Glycolaldehyde
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Building blocks of life found around young star

A team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) has spotted sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star. This is the first time sugar been found in space around such a star, and the discovery shows that the building blocks of life are in the right place, at the right time, to be included in planets forming around the star.
The astronomers found molecules of glycolaldehyde - a simple form of sugar - in the gas surrounding a young binary star, with similar mass to the Sun, called IRAS 16293-2422. Glycolaldehyde has been seen in interstellar space before, but this is the first time it has been found so near to a Sun-like star, at distances comparable to the distance of Uranus from the Sun in the Solar System. This discovery shows that some of the chemical compounds needed for life existed in this system at the time of planet formation

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NASA and University Researchers Find a Clue to How Life Turned Left

Researchers analysing meteorite fragments that fell on a frozen lake in Canada have developed an explanation for the origin of life's handedness - why living things only use molecules with specific orientations. The work also gave the strongest evidence to date that liquid water inside an asteroid leads to a strong preference of left-handed over right-handed forms of some common protein amino acids in meteorites. The result makes the search for extraterrestrial life more challenging.
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