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10 Billion Year Old Toast

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10 Billion Year Old Toast was created by DeirdreKelleghan

News Release: 2005-123 July 28, 2005



Spitzer Finds Life Components in Young Universe


NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has found the ingredients for life all the way back to a time
when the universe was a mere youngste

Using Spitzer, scientists have detected organic molecules in galaxies when our universe was one-
fourth of its current age of about 14 billion years. These large molecules, known as polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons, are comprised of carbon and hydrogen. The molecules are considered to
be among the building blocks of life.



These complex molecules are very common on Earth. They form any time carbon-based
materials are not burned completely. They can be found in sooty exhaust from cars and airplanes,
and in charcoal broiled hamburgers and burnt toast.

The molecules, pervasive in galaxies like our own Milky Way, play a significant role in star and
planet formation. Spitzer is the first telescope to see these molecules so far back in time.


“This is 10 billion years further back in time than we’ve seen them before,” said Dr. Lin Yan of
the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. Yan is
lead author of a study to be published in the August 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.
Previous missions -- the Infrared Astronomical Satellite and the Infrared Space Observatory --
detected these types of galaxies and molecules much closer to our own Milky Way galaxy.
Spitzer's sensitivity is 100 times greater than these previous infrared telescope missions, enabling
direct detection of organics so far away.

Deirdre Kelleghan
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17 years 6 months ago #14250

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Replied by ftodonoghue on topic Re: 10 Billion Year Old Toast

Very interesting...
Cheers
Trevor
17 years 6 months ago #14289

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Replied by Bill_H on topic Re: 10 Billion Year Old Toast

This is where my head goes into serious melt-down! Here we are, having some serious difficulties trying to find other planets within our solar system. not only that, we are actually having problems trying to decide if they are planets or not, then we have the added problem of not even knowing the definition of "planet". Now we have scientists telling us they have found the molecules of life from about 40 million years ago! Arguments persist about the possibility of life on Mars either now or in the past and still no one can tell us, but they have no problem telling us about the "building blocks" from such a long time ago. Am I missing something? what's the problem?
The more documentaries I watch on the space sciences the more I am disheartened and confused. Flashes from space were theorised as being from within the Galaxy, until one Astro-scientist came up with the theory that they came from much further away, he was rediculed. The reason being it would destroy Einsteins theory of relativity! But, after considerable investigation, they decided he must be right.
How long before someone changes this theory of the molecules? How do they mannage to spot and isolate these molecules from what must be an ocean of infra-red material out there?
My purpose is not to doubt, but to understand how they can do this, yet fail so dismally in the present and close to home with what, to a layman like me, should be more obvious.
Help!
Bill H.
Astronomers do it with the lights off.
17 years 6 months ago #14297

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Replied by DeirdreKelleghan on topic post

Yes Bill melt down, like the 78% dark matter that makes up most of the universe and was overlooked untill recently!Or was that dark energy?

Deirdre Kelleghan
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17 years 6 months ago #14306

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Replied by dmcdona on topic Re: 10 Billion Year Old Toast

Bill - I guess (an it is a guess) that the instrumentation used to detect and identify these 'molecules' was sensitive enough to do so and that the position of the signature of the molecules in the spectrum was such that they were not swamped by other 'stuff'.

Looking for planets and other objects on the solar system relies on two things - the object reflects a decent amount of light and it moves against the background stars.

Given that even the latest discovery of an object in the solar system is only mag 18 or 19 or so, they're difficult to spot without large light-gathering power - assuming you're pointing in the right direction.

Also, I can imagine the answer if I asked the Spitzer project Manager to just point the instrument to the Kuiper Belt for a a few days so I could search for KBO's. Presumably, off would be somewhere in his/her reply. Likewise Hubble, Keck, Gemini, etc, etc.

Dunno if that helps cools your head a bit?

CLT are en route...
17 years 6 months ago #14313

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Replied by Bill_H on topic Re: 10 Billion Year Old Toast

Presuming that finding life, or signs of past life, would be more relevent, or at least as relevant, in the solar system, why isn't the technology available to do this? So, I'm afraid melt down is still progressing at a fast rate. I understand that the technology is sensitive enough to do it, and can, but why? would we not be better exploring the Solar System with adequate technology, then moving on to deep space with that new found wealth of knowledge? It strikes me as buying a book and reading the last chapter only, then claiming we know all there is to know! Gee whizz! we can't even decide yet if what is in the solar system is a planet or not, yet we want go saying this is this, and that is that 40 million years ago.
Astronomers do it with the lights off.
17 years 6 months ago #14316

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Replied by Bill_H on topic Re: 10 Billion Year Old Toast

Damn, hit the submit button by mistake, now I've lost my train of thought :evil:
Bill.
Astronomers do it with the lights off.
17 years 6 months ago #14317

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Replied by jhonan on topic Re: 10 Billion Year Old Toast

My assumption about this discovery is that it is of some significance that the 'building blocks' (i.e. the organic molecules) were detected in quite young galaxies.

This is important to our understanding of how our own galaxy was formed, and especially what stuff appeared when. Including life.
Everyone in Ireland buys Meade, and they all buy them from Lidl.
17 years 6 months ago #14319

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Replied by Bill_H on topic Re: 10 Billion Year Old Toast

Yes. But my thoughts are; isn't it too big a jump, shouldn't we work slowly back to it? It's actually quite awesome the fact that this can, and has been done, but what about the bit in between? Or maybe the bit I'm missing is it's easier to start here and work forward now? I don't know, I would have thought that those molecules were there anyway (this is my naive brain now :) ) and all that has happened is they have now proved the obvious, so what now happens with this knowledge? Is it going to be put to positive use, or will they now look for something else as dramatic to do and let this fade away?
I'm really not trying to be controversial or awkward, just trying to understand how they are working. I just keep thinking of flashes, ToR, Einstein, big booboo(?).
Bill.
Astronomers do it with the lights off.
17 years 6 months ago #14324

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Replied by dmcdona on topic Re: 10 Billion Year Old Toast

Bill - i think that we (or rather the scientists) are studying the universe as a whole. Of course, where we live (the solar system) is important but I guess the space beyond is equally so. I know that there are still many questions about our locality but science is still looking at that - eg Deep Impact, Cassini, return to the moon etc. Boffins are also looking at the bigger picture too. With large budgets and a job to justify, they need to spread it around a bit. If we concentrated on our neck of the woods alone, I think we'd lose a good bit of knowledge. And knowledge of the beyond probably contributes significantly to local knowledge.

Finding and studying extra solar planets gives us a better yardstick with wioth to compare our own system. Looking for the signatures of life elsewhere put us into context.

What scientists do, and why they do it, is simply to advance knowledge. If some bloke in the early 1900's said he was going to investigate a theory called Relativity, a lot of people would ask why. If someone asked for a 5 billion fund to send particles whizzing round vast tunnels, you'd have to question their sanity. But these things have been allowed to happen and our knowledge has increased as a result. Sometimes for humanity's benefit, sometimes not.

Who knows why certain research projects are started and yet seemingly more basic (and fundamentally important) one's are not. For example, I understand that the mission to Pluto is not definite yet the James Webb project continues.

I know what you mean about the book analogy but perhaps all the chapters are still being written, by countless people. And we're nowhere near The End... :D

€0.02 worth....
17 years 6 months ago #14328

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