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Organics Probably Formed Easily in Early Solar System

Imaged Above: NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope observed a fledgling solar system like the one depicted in this artist’s concept. New computer simulations at the University of Chicago show that turbulence lofts dust particles above the illuminated portion of the cloud, where they become exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light from nearby stars. UV irradiation was a key component in the production of complex organic molecules in the early solar system. [Credit: Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech]

Mar. 30, 2012Complex organic compounds, including many important to life on Earth, were readily produced under conditions that likely prevailed in the primordial solar system. Scientists at the University of Chicago and NASA Ames Research Center came to this conclusion after linking computer simulations to laboratory experiments.

Fred Ciesla, assistant professor in geophysical sciences at UChicago, simulated the dynamics of the solar nebula, the cloud of gas and dust from which the sun and the planets formed. Although every dust particle within the nebula behaved differently, they all experienced the conditions needed for organics to form over a simulated million-year period… [Continue Reading]

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