Researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have discovered a way to synthetically make building blocks for DNA and RNA under the extreme conditions of deep space. The team blasted interstellar analog ices made of ammonia and methylamine with a laser to simulate the effects of galactic cosmic rays on cold molecular clouds in the interstellar medium. The results? A molecule called methanediamine was born—a precursor for complex biomolecules and a building block in the carriers of genetic information. The discovery could shed light on the origins of life.

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