QMUL astronomers find key prebiotic molecule in infant Sun-like star

Two QMUL astronomers are part of a team that has identified a key prebiotic molecule in the material from which a Sun-like star is forming.

Dr Izaskun Jimenez-Serra and Dr David Quénard, along with colleagues from other European institutions, used data from the ALMA telescope in Chile to find evidence of methyl isocyanate associated with IRAS16293–2422 B, a solar-type protostar in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Molecules like this are known as prebiotic because they are key ingredients in the chemical processes that can lead to the essential building blocks of life. The molecule has not been found in a solar-type protostar before now and it indicates that planets forming around stars like the Sun may already contain some of the necessary ingredients for life to evolve.  For the full story, see here.