Science & Tech

A key building block for human life has been discovered in interstellar space

A key building block for human life has been discovered in interstellar space
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One of the key building blocks required for human life has been found in the depths of space.

Astronomers have been looking out into a region 1,000 light-years from Earth, known as the Perseus Molecular Complex, and they’ve found an amino acid which is essential in human growth.

Tryptophan is one of the 20 amino acids required for humans to develop. Babies require it to grow and it’s also important for protein development and muscle function in adults

Readings from the Spitzer telescope, which is no longer in use, were crucial to the discovery.

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The Perseus Molecular Complex is only visible when viewed through infrared instruments, and tryptophan gives off an identifiable light reading when observed in this way.

Amino acids have been found in the depths of spaceiStock

Dr Susana Iglesias-Groth is from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and was lead author on the new research.

"The evidence for tryptophan in the Perseus molecular complex should encourage additional effort to identify other amino acids in this region, and in other star-forming regions,” Dr Iglesias-Groth said.

“It is a very exciting possibility that the building blocks of proteins are widely present in the gas from which stars and planets form – it may be key for the development of life in exoplanetary systems.”

The findings were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

It comes after research showed that life forms could potentially be able to survive in the conditions in the clouds above Venus.

The key point revolves around the presence of the biosignature gas phosphine, which is often identified as a sign of life. It also posits the idea that potential life forms on the planet could use sulphuric acid the way life forms on Earth use water.

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