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The building blocks of life were discovered floating at the center of the Milky Way

Updated Jan 11th, 2023 4:11PM EST
milky way
Image: Yin/Adobe

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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 Sciences. According to the study, the researchers discovered some of those building blocks in a cloud that lies near the center of our galaxy.

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

milky way center
The center of the Milky Way as observed with radio and x-ray instruments. Image source: NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang & NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT

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

RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is a molecule similar to DNA. It’s present in all living cells and even behaves similarly to the more well-known double-helix. Unlike DNA’s double-strand, though, RNA is only made up of a single strand. Its overall part in the origin of life is unclear. But, there is some evidence the building blocks of RNA could have preceded DNA.

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

Could RNA have helped jump-start the generation of life in the universe? It’s possible. But, proving that will be tough.

A part to play

RNA, building blocks of RNAImage source: nobeastsofierce / Adobe

What the scientists found in the cloud, G+0.693-0.027 were nitriles, a group of organic molecules that may have been important in generating RNA in the early universe. The researchers say that the existence of these building blocks of RNA shows that the chemistry could take place in the interstellar medium.

This would have allowed those nitriles to then form the key molecular precursors that the “RNA World” scenario relies on. This creation scenario argues 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 dive deeper into the possible part these building blocks of RNA may have played.

Despite all the knowledge that we’ve unlocked over the centuries, there’s still so much we don’t know about the beginning of our universe. Perhaps with this discovery, researchers will be able to uncover more about the early universe, and whether the building blocks of RNA had any part to play in all of it.

See stunning images shot on an iPhone 14 Pro Max of the Milky Way

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.