Ethyl formate, which tastes of raspberries, has been identified in space. Towards the centre source Sagittarius B2 to be precise.
Today at The University of Hertfordshire, which is hosting The European Week of Astronomy & Space Science, R. Garrod Cornell University of Cornell University presented the facinating results of collaborative research between the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, Cornell University, USA, and the University of Cologne, Germany.
It is easy to think of space as a cold lifeless vacuum but evidence from ongoing research is consistently demonstrating how even in the depths of space it is possible for complex organic chemistry to take place.
This latest discovery has identified an ester, ethyl formate (which tastes of raspberries and an alkyl cyanide, n-propyl cyanide (which does NOT taste of raspberries). These are the most complex molecules identified in space to date. In fact these molecule are so complex that they can be seen as a pointer that amino acids, the Holy Grail of this type of research, may be found in space.
This is significant in understanding the origins of life on the Earth. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are often referred to as “the building blocks of life”. If amino acids can be discovered in space then the theory that the building blocks of life originated in space and seeded the earth via the vector of meteorites and comets becomes ever more likely.
Increased complexity in interstellar chemistry:
Detection and chemical modeling of ethyl formate
and n-propyl cyanide in Sgr B2(N)