simple sugar molecules floating in the gas around a star some 400 light-years away, suggesting the possibility of life on other planets.
The molecules that the team detected in space are the simplest form of sugar, called glycoaldehyde, explained lead astronomer Jes Jørgensen of Denmark's Copenhagen University.
Glycoaldehyde can be found on Earth, usually in the form of an odorless white powder. While it isn't used to sweeten foods, it is important because scientists think it plays a key role in the chemical reaction that forms ribonucleic acid (RNA), a crucial biomolecule present in all living cells.
The glycoaldehyde molecules were found this young star forming region called Rho Ophiuchi: (Image credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team)
(This image is called a false-color image and the colors applied are based on 'specific wavelengths of infrared light' )