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The “enormous” possibility of life on other planets

The “enormous” possibility of life on other planets

Santa Cruz from Tenerife. Researcher at the Planetary Institute of the Canary Islands (IAC) Susana Iglesias-Groth, who researched the origin of life in her scientific work, confirms that the possibility of life developing in the planetary systems of the Milky Way may be more likely than it used to be. I thought.

Iglesias-Groth comments that if looking out at the universe teaches anything, it is to be humble, and wonders why similar life cannot exist or exist in an “enormous” galaxy, although it is possible that humans do not agree. Temporarily with these other forms of life, because times in the universe are long.

This life may be extinct, but it is also likely to form, and this increases the need for an open mind, since who would have said 40 years ago that there are many exoplanets in our galaxy.

These statements were made after the publication of an investigation showing that in the interstellar medium of the Perseus cloud is tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids for the existence of human life.

The human brain needs tryptophan, which is found in many foods and can be converted into serotonin, which regulates mood, as well as melatonin, which regulates sleep.

At the beginning of her research, the scientist focused on molecular and quantum physics and investigated the properties of carbon molecules unknown at that time, fullerenes, which were accidentally discovered in 1985 by Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley, who eleven years later awarded him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

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Kroto, Curl and Smalley have been trying to reproduce the chemistry of red giant stars and have found molecules that are the third form of pure carbon (along with graphite and diamond).

Fullerenes consist of carbon rings of six and five atoms that are also found in several key molecules of life, such as some amino acids.

Iglesias-Groth began searching for fullerenes in the Perseus cloud, one of the closest star-forming regions to the solar system, and did so with the Galileo telescope, at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, in La Palma, and with Akbar in Texas and Chile.

First he found simple molecules with carbon rings such as naphthalene and anthracene. Naphthalene, along with water, ammonia, and ultraviolet light, produces many of the amino acids essential to life.

In his search for prebiotic molecules that might be linked to the origin of life, he discovered in 2010 that there was anthracene in the Perseus cloud, a hydrocarbon with three carbon rings, and that along with naphthalene could be key in production. of the many organic molecules present in the formation of the solar system. When he accessed data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, he noticed that there were fullerenes in the Perseus cloud itself.

Iglesias-Groth recalls that the Perseus cloud, after two million years of existence, is a “baby” in relation to the Milky Way, which is about 13,000 million years old. This star-forming cloud is one of the closest.

The researcher continued her work searching for prebiotic molecules in that region, and published this year the discovery of tryptophan, which is essential for the formation of proteins and the development of human life.

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Perseus has “impressive molecular richness,” says Iglesias-Groth, who adds that during the pandemic he analyzed 34 other star-forming regions in the Milky Way and got results consistent with those of the Perseus cloud.

The researcher found evidence that amino acids are more abundant in space than previously thought and that they are widespread, especially in star-forming regions and planetary systems.

For this reason, it is believed that in another planetary system of the Milky Way, there is likely to be, is, or will be life similar to what we know on Earth, or at least not very different.