JUN 19, 2016 10:15 AM PDT

Chiral Molecules Detected in Outer Space

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch
2 4 223

Chiral molecules are "handed" molecules that are mirror images of each other - one is a right-handed version, the other left. They have the same properties in terms of characteristics like freezing and melting point, but they interact very differently with other molecules. Most pharmaceuticals are chiral, and while one of the twin compounds serves a useful purpose, the other is not effective and could potentially be harmful. Science Magazine explains chirality and an associated new discovery in the video above.

Interestingly, chiral molecules have been detected in space for the first time. After using radio telescopes to peer into the center of the Milky Way about 28,000 miles away, they detected evidence of propylene oxide, a chemical used back on Earth for making polyethylene plastics.

The discovery bolsters the idea that complex molecules could form on grains of ice inside clouds of diffuse interstellar gas and dust, as many current models of evolving solar systems propose. Could this discovery help explain why on Earth we encounter "homochirality" - the domination of one version of the handed molecule - so often? Maybe. It could also help us figure out some of the mysteries surrounding the origins of life.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
JUL 06, 2018
Videos
JUL 06, 2018
The Impact of Junk Food on the Brain
Researchers have found that junk food stimulates neurons in our brains that cause a sense of reward.
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
This is Your Brain on Yoga
Yoga is a great way to keep muscles strong, joints flexible and stress levels low.Many studies tout the benefits of yoga for relieving pain, improving rang
JUL 24, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
JUL 24, 2018
What is UV Photography?
Human eyes see visible light, whose wavelength ranges between 400 and 750 nanometers (nm). To visualize anything lower than 400 nm, one can resort
JUL 28, 2018
Videos
JUL 28, 2018
23andMe Announces Partnership with Drug Company GSK
The collaboration aims to improve personalized therapeutics.
AUG 07, 2018
Videos
AUG 07, 2018
Can "Going Keto" Affect Your Skin?
The ketogenic diet is quite trendy and is hailed by health professionals and followers for weight loss, metabolic benefits and cholesterol management. It i
AUG 15, 2018
Videos
AUG 15, 2018
CBD Being Used in Stem Cell Research
CDKL5 (cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5) is a gene that is found on the X-chromosome, mutations to this gene lead to a rare genetic disorder. Scientists
Loading Comments...