Star of wonder . . .

European astronomers have discovered the building blocks of life in dust swirling around a distant star, they have revealed.
The dust is forming into rocky planets and their find suggests that life could be widespread in the universe and not unique to Earth.
Fred Lahuis of Leiden Observatory, Holland, led the team that detected carbon-containing gases that form DNA and protein around a star called IRS 46 in the constellation of Ophiuchus, the snake carrier.
The star is relatively close to Earth, being only 375 light years away.
It is the first time that these organic gases – acetylene and hydrogen cyanide – have been found in a planet zone outside our own solar system.
Lahuis, who made his discovery with Nasa’s Spitzer space telescope, said: “This infant system might look a lot like ours did billions of years ago, before life arose on Earth.”
The Nasa imge above is an artist’s impression of dust swirling around a new star.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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