Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, and M. Zamani (ESA). Science: M. K. McClure (Leiden Observatory), F. Sun (Steward Observatory), Z. Smith (Open University), and the Ice Age ERS Team
Maybe we aren't as unique as we thought. ...... read full story
Photo: In this molecular cloud (a birthplace of stars and planets), Webb scientists found a variety of icy ingredients. These frozen molecules, like carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane, could go on to become building blocks of life. We’re not talking ice cubes here. This molecular cloud is so cold and dark that molecules — not just water — have actually frozen onto the grains of dust inside the cloud. Webb proves for the first time that more complex molecules could form in the icy depths of molecular clouds before stars are born. How did we figure out what molecules were in the cloud? Using Webb’s infrared abilities, researchers studied how starlight from beyond the molecular cloud was absorbed by the icy molecules within. This process left us with “chemical fingerprints,” or absorption lines, that could be compared with lab data to identify the molecules.