James Webb Telescope Detects Building Blocks of Life in Coldest Known Ice

Scientists using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have observed and measured the coldest ice in the deepest reaches of an interstellar molecular cloud to date. The frozen molecules measured minus 440 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 263 degrees Celsius), according to new research published Jan. 23 in the journal Nature Astronomy. These molecules will someday be a part of the hot core of a growing star, and possibly part of future exoplanets, according to the researchers. They also hold the building blocks of habitable worlds: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur, a molecular cocktail known as COHNS. The team also found more complex molecules they can’t specifically identify. But the finding proves that complex molecules do form in molecular clouds before they’re used up by growing stars.

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