Maps of planetary nurseries will help in the complex hunt for alien life

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protoplanetary disk

Artist’s impression of a protoplanetary disk. Inset: soup of complex molecules around a new planet

M.Vis/Center for Astrophysics/Harvard and Smithsonian

Planetary nurseries have been mapped in the most detail yet, and they contain far more organic molecules than expected – the basic chemical building blocks for life. Studying such maps can help us understand whether we are alone in the universe.

Planets are expected to form in a disk of dust and gas called a protoplanetary disk, which surrounds young stars. We’ve seen these discs in the past, and even seen signs of The formation of planets

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