Scientists were thrilled to find evidence of sugar molecules in the gas around a young star, which suggests that the system contains the building blocks of life. The star, called IRAS 16293-2422, is similar in mass to the sun and about 400 light years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. The sugar molecules are called glycolaldehyde and have been seen in space before. What makes this finding unique is that the discovery is very close to a star that is similar to the sun.
“In the disk of gas and dust surrounding this newly formed star, we found glycolaldehyde, which is a simple form of sugar, not much different to the sugar we put in coffee,” said Jes Jørgensen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, who helped lead the study. “This molecule is one of the ingredients in the formation of RNA, which — like DNA, to which it is related — is one of the building blocks of life.”
Glycolaldehyde helps to form ribose, a major component of RNA. RNA is one of the primary molecules to create life.
“The sugar molecules are not only in the right place to find their way onto a planet, but they are also going in the right direction,” researcher Cécile Favre said in a statement.
Who would have thought that sugar could do anything other than make you fat?