Jun 17, 2019 | Updated: 11:38 AM EDT

Researchers Found Methanol Around The Young Star TW Hydrae That Could Ultimately Lead To The Emergence Of Life

May 26, 2017 01:04 PM EDT

Artist’s impression of the disc around the young star TW Hydrae
(Photo : European Southern Observatory (ESO)/ You Tube) Methanol, a key building block for the complex organic compounds that comprise life, has been detected for the first time in the protoplanetary disk of a young, distant star.

Methanol is actually known as methyl alcohol which is a very common in the chemistry lab. It acquired the name "wood alcohol" because it can produce chiefly as a byproduct of the destructive distillation of wood. This complex organic product is a key component that comprises life. Recently, Methanol has been detected for the first time in the protoplanetary disk of a young, distant star.

For the first time, researchers discovered Methanol around the young star TW Hydrae. TW Hydrae is a T Tauri star which is only 5-10 million years old. It consists of 80% of the mass of the Earth's Sun and it has the closest protoplanetary disk to Earth, Astronomy Now reported.

However, methanol is located in a ring peaking 30 astronomical units from the star. Scientists detailed report about this and they said this methanol gas is actually coming from methanol ice located slightly further away from the star. They also believe that this finding could help to better understand the planet formation chemistry and emergence of life.

Now scientist used the most powerful observatory system, Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, Phys.Org reported. This is actually for analyzing the chemistry of nearby protoplanetary disks. In addition, ALMA can also map where cold dust and gas is located in these disks.

According to scientist, methanol molecule formation is a two-step process. Firstly, it releases the heat and secondly dust grains help to absorb the excess energy to stabilize newly made methanol molecules. One more point that must be included that methanol in protoplanetary disks is thought to begin first as ice and it is made by chemical reaction with surface dust grains.

Now, when methanol ice closer to TW Hydrae then volatile molecule can get excited by solar radiation and become methanol gas. This is what researchers have now discovered.

 But now researchers said it is not a perfect explanation about this process because as per previous research the ice is heating up already. There might be some other mechanism like as UV ray from the TW Hydrae.

Lead scientist Walsh said, there are lots of mystery still remains there. First of all, the observed methanol gas levels are unexpectedly less, almost 100 times less than previously expected from recent models of protoplanetary disk chemistry.

There are two possibilities. Either these models overestimate the rate at which methanol ice releases methanol gas or stellar radiation and other factors destroy methanol molecules.

Researchers also predict that the methanol gas is also in a different region of the disk which remains a puzzle. They are still working harder to understand this puzzle and new data from ALMA. The scientist will receive the data in hand in 2017 and then further reinvestigation will proceed.

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