Interstellar space is the physical space within a galaxy not occupied by stars or planets.
In a paper published in the journal Science on September 26, astronomers reported discovering a complex molecule needed for life in the gaseous star-forming region Sagittarius B2.
The finding suggests that the building blocks of life may have their origins in interstellar space.
Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, astronomers from Cornell in the US and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and the University of Cologne in Germany picked up radio waves emitted by the molecule isopropyl cyanide.
The organic molecules normally detected in these regions of space have straight chains with a “backbone” of carbon atoms. Isopropyl cyanide is the first organic molecule with branches to be found.
It is a common element in organic molecules such as amino acids, which make up proteins.
The detection supports the idea that the organic molecules that have been found on meteorites were first created during the process of star formation.