Apr 22, 2009 | 22
Two of the most complex molecules ever found outside the solar system have been turned up by astronomers peering into Sagittarius B2 (Sgr B2), a massive, vigorous star-forming region near the heart of the Milky Way.
Arnaud Belloche, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, and his colleagues detected the spectral signature of ethyl formate (far left in image) and n-propyl cyanide (at right in image) in electromagnetic radiation from Sgr B2. Both are relatively large organic (carbon-based) molecules—ethyl formate (C2H5OCHO) has 11 atoms and n-propyl cyanide (n-C3H7CN) has 12. Only cyanodecapentayne (HC11N), discovered in 1997, boasts more atoms among known interstellar molecules with 13.
Jan 6, 2009 | 1
The center of the Milky Way galaxy is a forbidding place, dominated by what astronomers strongly suspect is a black hole four million times the mass of the sun. But a new study provides evidence that stars are able to form there, despite the violent conditions stirred up by the supermassive gobbler.
The findings indicate that the clouds of gas at the galaxy's core must be denser than previously believed to coalesce into stars while resisting being ripped apart by the black hole's gravitational pull. Study leader Elizabeth Humphreys, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., presented the results yesterday at the semiannual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif.
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