Astrochemistry research

Astrochemistry research

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Credit: PASCAL GOETGHELUCK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Astrochemistry research. The pink glow is where UV (ultraviolet) radiation is being used to irradiate simulated space ice. This consists of ammonia, water and simple hydrocarbons, which are frozen at low temperatures. The ices, similar to those found in comets and interstellar nebulae, are irradiated (here with a hydrogen lamp) to simulate sunlight. Amino acids, the basic building blocks of life, are formed in these types of experiments. This supports the theories that the origin of life on Earth, and elsewhere in the universe, involved space ice impacting planets and hence depositing organic materials. Photographed at the Institute of Astrophysics, Orsay, France.

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