Buried in the Cat’s Paw Nebula lies one of the largest space molecules ever seen

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown space molecule while studying a relatively nearby region of intense star birth, a cosmic spot about 5,550 light-years away. It is part of the Cat’s Paw Nebula, also known as NGC 6334.

The team, led by Zachary Fried, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), examined a section of the nebula known as NGC 6334I with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). This revealed the presence of a complex molecule known as 2-methoxyethanol, which had never before been seen in the natural world, although its properties had been simulated in laboratories on Earth.

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