In a preprint of twenty papers accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal, the authors present evidence from their study of five proto-planetary discs orbiting young stars about 300 to 500 light years from Earth. The results were astounding. They discovered organic molecules, the seeds of life, in an unforeseen abundance.
According to the lead author, Karin Öberg, from the Harvard-Smithonian Center for Astrophysics said in a statement: “This is very exciting; the chemicals in each disc will ultimately affect the type of planets that form — and determine whether or not they can host life.”
The composition of these five discs consists of dust and gas particles which in time will combine to form planets as we know them for our solar system for it owes its origin to the same process. The presence of organic molecules was detected in four out of the five discs studied, and their abundance measured 10 to 100 times higher than their models had predicted.
These breathtaking discoveries suggest that life may be an abundant cosmic phenomenon after all.