The building blocks of life have been discovered floating in the center of the Milky Way

Scientists have spotted the building blocks of RNA at the center of the Milky Way. They published their findings in Frontiers in astronomy and space science. According to the study, researchers discovered some of these building blocks in a cloud near the center of our galaxy.

Scientists just found the building blocks of RNA at the center of the Milky Way

The center of the Milky Way observed with radio and X-ray instruments. Image source: NASA/CXC/UMass/QD Wang & NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT

The research team discovered the building blocks of RNA in a molecular cloud called G+0.693-0.027. The discovery, they say, could have implications for theories about how life on Earth began. It could also shed more light on how life on other planets also began.

RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is a molecule similar to DNA. It is present in all living cells and even behaves similarly to the better known double helix. Unlike double stranded DNA, RNA is made up of only one strand. Its overall part in the origin of life is unclear. But, there is evidence that the building blocks of RNA could have preceded DNA.

Much of this evidence is based on observations scientists have made of ribosomes, which are made of RNA. But that’s not the big find here. Nor is it the big question on everyone’s mind. Instead, this discovery of the building blocks of RNA at the center of the Milky Way has sparked the interest of many.

Could RNA have helped restart the generation of life in the universe? It’s possible. But proving that will be difficult.

A role to play

RNA, building blocks of RNAImage source: nobeastsofierce/Adobe

What the scientists found in the cloud, G+0.693-0.027, are nitriles, a group of organic molecules that may have played an important role in the generation of RNA in the early universe. The researchers say the existence of these RNA building blocks shows that chemistry could be taking place in the interstellar medium.

This would have allowed these nitriles to then form the main molecular precursors on which the “RNA World” scenario is based. This creation scenario holds that RNA was responsible for the origin of life in the early universe. There are, of course, problems with the theory. But it is interesting to delve into the possible role that these building blocks of RNA may have played.

Despite all the knowledge we have acquired over the centuries, there is still so much we don’t know about the beginning of our universe. Perhaps with this discovery, researchers will be able to learn more about the early universe and whether the building blocks of RNA played a role in it all.

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