The Chemistry around Young Stars: Astronomer Nami Sakai

Most of space is a vacuum. But since 1940, radio telescopes have detected "interstellar molecular clouds" containing carbon monoxide, ammonia and water molecules. Over tens of millions of years, gravity causes these clouds to accumulate gas and dust, and then collapse, forming stars. In this episode, we'll meet RIKEN Institute astronomer Nami Sakai, who discovered unexpected carbon chain molecules near the hot and dense center of one of these clouds, a baby star known as "L1527," still forming in the Taurus constellation. Sakai's discovery showed the world that the molecules present in newly-forming stars vary from one to the next. And her ongoing research on "interstellar chemistry" raises questions about the origins of our own solar system.

Sakai is intrigued by how interstellar molecules develop