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Complex organic matter discovered in the universe

Organic compounds of unexpected complexity exist throughout the universe, according to a new paper in Nature.

Prof. Sun Kwok and Dr. Yong Zhang of the University of Hong Kong show that an organic substance commonly found throughout the universe contains a mixture of aromatic (ring-like) and aliphatic (chain-like) components.

The compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble those of coal and petroleum. Since coal and oil are remnants of ancient life, this type of organic matter was thought to arise only from living organisms. The team’s discovery suggests that complex organic compounds can be synthesised in space even when no life forms are present.

Read more at Nature

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