Astrochemistry product

Astrochemistry product

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This image is part of the feature Life In Space

Credit: VOLKER STEGER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Astrochemistry product. Researcher holding a flask containing a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH, structural formula on label) experimental product. PAHs are thought to account for infrared emission bands observed in interstellar dust clouds. They are also thought to be found in comet ices. PAHs have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation in the laboratory to simulate conditions in space. This has produced hydrocarbons that could be precursors to biological molecules. This supports theories that the origin of life on Earth, and elsewhere in the universe, involved space ice impacting planets and depositing organic materials. Photographed at NASA's Ames Research Center, California, USA.

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