(BIrth Of Stars and liFE: edge Research at INAF):

Marie Sklodowska-Curie ASTROFIT funded project

Logo credit: Jesús D. García Guijarro

The origin of life is one of the most fascinating topics for the Human Being. The building blocks of life are molecules with more than 5 atoms and containing carbon, known as complex organic molecules (COMs). The improved sensitivity of current astronomical facilities (e.g. ALMA, NOEMA, VLA) has allowed us to detect many of these COMs in regions where stars and planets are forming. This exciting result have led us to wonder if there is a chemical link between the interstellar medium (ISM) and our own planet, where the life found the needed conditions to develop. To shed light on this topic, we need to understand the mechanisms responsible for the formation of COMs, which are still poorly known. This is the fundamental objective of the BIOSFERA project, which will be focused on the study of the formation of two families of molecules with high astrobiological interest such as sugar-related molecules (glycoladehyde, ethylene glycol...) and molecules containing phosphorus, which is a key ingredient for prebiotic chemistry. These families of molecules play a crucial role in many chemical processes related with life, such as the transport of energy and the formation of genetic material. BIOSFERA will conduct and analyse multiple high-quality observations towards chemically rich star-forming regions. The observational results will be compared with the predictions of the state-of-the-art chemical models available and with laboratory experiments, allowing us to disentangle the formation chemical pathways of the seeds of life.

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Víctor M. Rivilla