It’s not just for Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars. Not even close.
Shortly after Earth first formed first formed, life quickly took hold, thriving ever since.
Perhaps terrestrial life didn’t originate here, but arrived from elsewhere through natural processes.
Surprisingly, the raw ingredients necessary for life exist almost everywhere astronomers look.
Here are 10 locations where they’re ubiquitous.
1.) Jets emitted from newly forming stars, Herbig Haro objects, contain all sorts of organic molecules.
2.) Protoplanetary disks contain multitudes, with ALMA observations finding more variety than ever.
3.) Pluto, the largest world in our Kuiper belt, contains tholins, methane, and organic-rich hazes.
4.) The Iris Nebula, gas illuminated by a brilliant young star, is rich in numerous complex carbon compounds.
5.) Inside meteorites, amino acids and proteins abound, including ones not naturally occurring on Earth.
6.) The galactic center’s gas includes ethyl formate: the compound responsible for raspberries’ unmistakable scent.
7.) The Taurus Molecular Cloud, where new stars form, contains dozens of organics, including cyanopolyynes.
8.) Planetary nebulae, created when sun-like stars die, contain over 20 molecular species, including fullerenes.
9.) Wispy strands in the interstellar medium contain 160+ unique molecules, including chain-like organic compounds.
10.) Sedimentary rocks on Mars contain carbon-rich organic compounds over 3 billion years old.
The ingredients for life are practically everywhere. Perhaps life is, too.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.