James Webb telescope obtains the best image of the deepest

James Webb telescope obtains the best image of the “deepest and coldest ice” in space

A team of researchers has explored a molecular cloud located about 600 light years from Earth with the “James Webb” space telescope.finding molecular species that form the “bricks of life” in a region of deep space icy clouds.

As announced by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, In addition to simple ice molecules like water, there are frozen forms of molecules like carbon dioxide, ammonia, and methane, until reaching the complex organic molecule methanol.

Crucial for the formation of a habitable planet

According to the institute, These frozen molecules are of crucial importance for the formation of a habitable planet: they contain several elements that are central components of planetary atmospheres and substances such as sugars, alcohols and simple amino acids.s. These elements probably reached Earth through the impact of comets or icy asteroids.

“Our results provide insight into the early, dark chemistry stage of ice formation in interstellar dust grains that will grow into the centimeter-long pebbles from which planets form in disks,” says Melissa. McClure, an astronomer at the Leiden Observatory, principal investigator of the observing program, and lead author of the paper describing this result. “These observations open a new window into the pathways for the formation of the simple and complex molecules needed to make the building blocks of life,” she adds.

Prebiotic molecules in planetary systems

“Our identification of complex organic molecules, such as methanol and potentially ethanol, also suggests that the many star and planetary systems that develop in this particular cloud will inherit molecules in a fairly advanced chemical state,” added Will Rocha, an astronomer at the Observatory. from Leiden who contributed to this discovery. “This could mean that the presence of prebiotic molecules in planetary systems is a common result of star formation, rather than a unique feature of our own Solar System.”

The “James Webb” telescope was built jointly by the space agencies of Europe (ESA), the United States (NASA) and Canada (CSA) and launched into space at the end of 2021 aboard an Ariane launcher from the European spaceport of Kourou. , in French Guiana, after previous cost explosions and repeated postponements. In the summer of 2022, the first images from the telescope were released, providing the deepest and most detailed view of space to date.

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