3 November 1998

Edited by Emma Sanders

Moon sheds light on Sun

Moondust contains traces of rare solar gases,
krypton and xenon. This discovery,
made by researchers at ETH Zurich,
promises a unique archive of the life of the Sun.

Buffeted by the solar wind for over four billion years,
the dust on the surface of the Moon has absorbed traces of rare gases. Moreover,
the proportion of the gases varies according to the age of the sample. This means researchers will be able to learn more about the formation and evolution of the solar system.

Left-handed life

It’s not just neutrinos that are left-handed,
nearly all amino acids,
vital for life,
are left-handed as well. Now new observations using the Anglo­Australian telescope might explain the origin of life’s left-handed bias.

Astronomers observed a region of the
Orion nebula containing clouds of organic molecules.
Most radiation,
such as that from the
is unpolarized,
but in this case 17% of the
radiation is circularly polarized.
Astronomers believe this effect was caused by scattering of dust grains aligned in a magnetic field.
Circularly polarized UV light could be responsible for the
left-handedness of amino acids.


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