Proposed New Flavor for Milky Way
Thu, April 23, 2009 (03:50 PM)
from the Telegraph
Astronomers testing a giant dust cloud at the heart of the Milky Way have found that it might taste of raspberries, according to reports.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, were searching space for evidence of amino acids: the basic chemicals from which life is created.
They told the Guardian newspaper that, despite failing to locate any such aminos, they did find a substance called ethyl formate, the chemical responsible for the flavor of raspberries.
The astronomers used the IRAM telescope in Spain to analyse electromagnetic radiation emitted by a hot and dense region of Sagittarius B2 that surrounds a newborn star, the paper reported.
Radiation from the star is absorbed by molecules floating around in the gas cloud, which is then re-emitted at different energies depending on the type of molecule.
While scouring their data, the team found ethyl formate as well as evidence for the deadly chemical propyl cyanide in the same cloud. The two molecules are the largest yet discovered in deep space.
Astronomer Arnaud Belloche said: "It [ethyl formate] does happen to give raspberries their flavor, but there are many other molecules that are needed to make space raspberries."