The Milky Way Tastes Like Raspberries

September 30, 2009

I just heard about this on TV and did a little research to discover that, indeed, our galaxy contains the same chemical responsible for giving raspberries their flavor.  According to the British newspaper, The Telegraph:

21 April 2009

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 flavour of raspberries.

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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 flavour, but there are many other molecules that are needed to make space raspberries.”

The results are being presented today at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

Last year, the team came tantalisingly close to finding amino acids in space with the discovery of a molecule that can be used to make them, called amino acetonitrile.

Previously, astronomers have detected a variety of large molecules, including alcohols, acids and chemicals called aldehydes.

The snozberries taste like snozberries!

"The snozberries taste like snozberries!"

As the old adage goes: you learn something new everyday.

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