- The new ALMA observations reveal that the protoplanetary disc surrounding the young star MWC 480 contains large amounts of methyl cyanide (CH3CN), a complex carbon-based molecule. Both this molecule and its simpler cousin hydrogen cyanide (HCN) were found in the cold outer reaches of the star’s newly formed disc.
- Importantly, the molecules ALMA detected are much more abundant than would be found in interstellar clouds. This tells astronomers that protoplanetary discs are very efficient at forming complex organic molecules and that they are able to form them on relatively short timescales.
- As this system continues to evolve, astronomers speculate that it’s likely that the organic molecules safely locked away in comets and other icy bodies will be ferried to environments more nurturing to life.
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