The origin of life is probably one of the mysteries that most intrigues scientists and the general public. Understanding how apparently from nowhere some elements came together and through a process of millions of years came to life is very impressive and scientists do not stop studying their reasons.
Recently, a group of scientists from the Astrobiology Center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research and the National Institute of Aerospace Technology of the Spanish Ministry of Defense carried out a study in which they managed to identify a molecule that could be the key to life on Earth.
The molecule is called ethanolamine and it contains the four fundamental chemical elements for life (oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen). Among the most interesting aspects of the find is that it was not even made inside our planet. The discovery has occurred in a molecular cloud located in the center of the galaxy.
Ethanolamine is part of a group of molecules that make up cell membranes and with this discovery, scientists will be able to analyze in greater depth the composition of the first cell membranes that would later be alive.
The discovery is not only important to understand the origins of life on our planet but also reaffirms the fact that the ingredients for life are not unique on Earth and that they are out in space, and “available” to anyone.
“The basic ingredients for life are there. Our results suggest that ethanolamine is synthesized very efficiently in interstellar space in molecular clouds where new stars and planetary systems are formed,” said Víctor Manuel Rivilla, leader of the research.
Scientists used the radio telescopes installed in the southern and central regions of Spain to identify these molecules, and they presume that a gigantic number of these molecules could have reached the primitive Earth during their formation process thanks to the impact of meteorites.