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Astronomers Discover Complex Organic Matter in Space

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

In today’s issue of the journal Nature, astronomers report that organic compounds of unexpected complexity exist throughout the Universe. The results suggest that complex organic compounds are not the sole domain of life but can be made naturally by stars.

Prof. Sun Kwok and Dr. Yong Zhang of The University of Hong Kong show that an organic substance commonly found throughout the Universe contains a mixture of aromatic (ring-like) and aliphatic (chain-like) components. The compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble those of coal and petroleum. Since coal and oil are remnants of ancient life, this type of organic matter was thought to arise only from living organisms. The team’s discovery suggests that complex organic compounds can be synthesized in space even when no life forms are present.

Full Story: http://www.hku.hk/press/news_detail_6633.html