Astronomers have detected the pre biotic complex organic molecule methyl isocyanate in the multiple star system IRAS 16293-2422. 

First of all, astronomers that made this discovery are from two teams of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.

The new discovery could help astronomers understand how life arose on Earth.

“We report the detection of the pre biotic molecule CH3NCO in a solar-type protostar,
IRAS16293-2422 B. Astronomers proposed a significant abundance of this species on the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Also, it has recently been detected in
hot cores around high-mass protostars” Rafael Martin-Domenech and Victor M. Rivilla, co-authors of one of the papers, said in a statement.

However, this is the second time astronomers identify a building block for life, where previous analysis found sugar in 2012.

The name of this newly discovered pre biotic molecule is methyl isocyanate. It is a part of a family of molecules that form the peptide bonds necessary for organic proteins.

Two teams of astronomers have harnessed the power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. Thus detecting the pre biotic complex organic molecule. One team was co-led by Rafael Martín-Doménech at the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid, Spain, and Víctor M. Rivilla, at the INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri in Florence, Italy. The other by Niels Ligterink at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands and Audrey Coutens at University College London, United Kingdom.

Methyl isocyanate is deadly to humans. However, astronomers say it offers hints as to how life emerges around young stars like our own sun.

But one of the main problems of modern science is the understanding of the origin of life.

So, authors of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society said: “We believe that some basic pre biotic chemistry could have developed in space, likely transferring pre biotic molecules to the solar nebula and later on to Earth”.

Furthermore, the molecule was also found on an icy comet back in 2015 by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe.