organic matter
  • Organic matter – complex molecules including carbon – is so-called because it is the stuff of life on Earth, but in space it appears to be present in a vast variety. Observations in the infrared, where the vibration patterns of organic molecules can be seen, have shown that organic molecules up to the complexity of amino acids, which have at least ten atoms, exist in space, a finding confirmed by their being found in meteorites. Over 100 interstellar molecules have been observed in space and their presence in comets and asteroids means that they must have been present on the early Earth when life was beginning here, although they seem not to have been involved directly in the development of terrestrial life forms.

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