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Space sugar...how can they even see it?


Baby Astronaut
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Spectrum analysis?

 

I agree. (You often make good suggestions, I've noticed :cool: )

 

What they saw was radio emission in the millimeter wavelengths

 

http://babbage.sissa.it/abs/0811.3821

 

The glycol aldehyde was fairly warm-----300 kelvin, around room temp.

 

†hat made it radiate at its characteristic wavelengths that that molecule likes to vibrate.

 

 

B. Astro. this is a very neat find. Thanks for spotting it and giving us the link.

 

You might want to think about how that molecule happened to be synthesized in space.

 

If you look at it you will see that it would require two CO (carbon monoxide) molecules and some hydrogen.

 

There is always plenty of hydrogen in space, so that's no problem.

 

Carbon and oxygen are formed in the cores of stars by fusion. Fusion builds up from hydrogen to helium to carbon and oxygen. At the end of its life the star will blow off a certain amount of these heavier elements and they join the clouds of hydrogen and dust and stuff.

 

Carbon monoxide is very reactive (which is why it is a poison to us, it binds to other molecules, it disables hemoglobin etc.) The CO is joined by a doublebond but carbon has four valences so it is not fully satisfied with just the one oxygen and it can attach to other stuff.

 

If you think about it you can picture how that glycol aldehyde molecule could have been built up by random interactions. Dust particles could serve as catalyst, a temporary locale where the hydrogen and CO can meet up and get together.

 

I think the Wired reporter did a good job.

Edited by Martin
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what would life in space do with a sugar molecule? theres no oxygen to burn it with.

 

Did you read the article in Wired, granpa? Please read it if you haven't. It will help you guess intelligently about the significance of glycol aldehyde.

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