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Astrochemistry: August 2020


We present an overview of the GOTHAM (GBT Observations of TMC-1: Hunting Aromatic Molecules) Large Program on the Green Bank Telescope.

The origin of life on Earth is a topic that has piqued human curiosity since probably before recorded history began.

During a 2012 expedition to Antarctica, a team of Japanese and Belgian researchers picked up a small rock that appeared coal black against the snow white. Now known as meteorite Asuka 12236, it was roughly the size of a golf ball.

Any search for present or past life beyond Earth should consider the initial processes and related environmental controls that might have led to its start.

All the chemical elements in the universe, except for hydrogen and most of the helium, were produced inside stars. But among them there are a few (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and phosphorus) which are particularly interesting because they are basic to life as we know it on Earth.

As Carl Sagan famously said, "We're made of star stuff" -- but how do stars distribute their essential "stuff" for life into space? NASA's telescope on an airplane, SOFIA, is finding some answers by watching pulsating stars as they expand and contract, almost like beating hearts.