March 17, 2008

Water and Organic Molecules on AA Tauri

Water Signature
Great news today. Water and some organic molecules has been detected on AA Tauri's protoplanetary disk.
AA Tauri is a star 450 lightyears from earth. Protoplanetary disks are dust, rocks and clouds around a star that are raw materials for planet-formation. The particular disk where the organic molecules were detected are within 3 Astronomical Units (AU) from AA Tauri. Spitzer Space Telescope’s spectrograph captured data from the disk which very much resembles the signature of organic molecules and water on Earth.
What does this mean? There's a big chance that the planet that will form from such water-abundant and organic-rich materials will be conducive to life.

Science Mag Abstract
Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Naval Research Laboratory

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