The Loh Down On Science

Sugar 'n Space

We know the moon isn’t made of green cheese, but is the Milky Way made out of chocolate?

?This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, that may be far-fetched.

?But enter astrochemists at Denmark’s Niels Bohr Institute.  They recently found that a young star 400 light-years from Earth is surrounded by glycolaldehyde. That’s a simple sugar, like sucrose!

?The sugar molecules are spread out in a vast cloud, as far from the star as Uranus is from our sun. It’s only the second time sugar’s been found in space, and the first time near a star!

?The researchers detected the sugar molecules’ faint radiation via new high-precision radio telescopes. They’re ten times more sensitive to short radio waves than were previous telescopes.

?The researchers say the glycolaldehyde likely formed when gases and dust bonded. And since the compound is in DNA's chemical cousin, RNA, the discovery is pretty intriguing. It could be a possible precursor to life.

Or at least the largest Mars Bar ever seen!  We can only hope.

<em>The Loh Down on Science</em> is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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