Life’s ‘Left-Handed’ Amino Acids Still A Puzzle

Some astronomers think life’s handedness may have origins in radiation-rich star-forming regions like the Cat’s Paw Nebula (NGC 6334) — shown here in the near infrared. NGC 6334, a vast region of star formation about 5500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius, remains one of the most active nurseries of massive young stars in our galaxy. Credit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA; Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

Did life’s predilection for so-called “left-handed” amino acids evolve as a quirk of prebiotic chemistry here on earth? Or did biomolecules’ reliance on single “chirality” or handedness actually have more offworld origins?

That remains one of astrobiology’s toughest questions.

Some researchers have even suggested that left-handed amino acids — molecules that can’t be superimposed on their mirror images and that rotate polarized light in opposite directions — may be a pre-requisite for life’s evolution

Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2013/06/29/lifes-left-handed-amino-acids-remain-astrobiological-head-scratcher/

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