Astrophysicists Identify “Significant Reservoirs” of Organic Molecules Necessary To Form the Basis of Life

Astrophysicists Identify “Significant Reservoirs” of Organic Molecules Necessary To Form the Basis of Life

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have mapped out 18 organic and inorganic molecules in protoplanetary disks around five young stars: IM Lup, GM Aur, AS 209, HD 163296, and MWC 480. The new ALMA maps reveal that the chemicals in protoplanetary disks are not located uniformly throughout each disk; instead, each disk is a different soup of planetary ingredients. The results suggest that planet formation occurs in diverse chemical environments and that as they form, each planet may be exposed to vastly different molecules depending on its location in a disk. A series of 20 papers detailing this project — named the Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS) — will published in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. Planets form and obtain their compositions in dust and …
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