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Astrochemistry research

Astrochemistry research

G365/0026

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Credit

PASCAL GOETGHELUCK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PASCAL GOETGHELUCK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Astrochemistry researcher in his laboratory, where he is simulating conditions found in space ice. Common molecules such as water, ammonia and simple hydrocarbons are frozen at low temperatures. The ices, similar to those in comets and interstellar nebulae, are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (from a hydrogen lamp, pink glow) 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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