The chemical composition of protoplanetary disks is expected to hold clues to the physical and chemical processes that influence the formation of planetary systems. However, characterizing the gas composition in the planet formation region of disks has been a challenge to date. We report here that the protoplanetary disk within 3 astronomical units of AA Tauri possesses a rich molecular emission spectrum in the mid-infrared, indicating a high abundance of simple organic molecules (HCN, C2H2, and CO2), water vapor, and OH. These results suggest that water is abundant throughout the inner disk and that the disk supports an active organic chemistry.
1 Remote Sensing Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Code 7210, Washington, DC 20375, USA.
2 National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, AZ85719, USA.
Which in plain english means there is fine primordial stew, supporting "an active organic chemistry", in a a neighboring accretting disk (pre-planet). What you see in the picture above is a model, assuming a disk shape in thermodynamic equilibrium, and throwing in a bunch of chemicals. The observation confirms the presence of these chemicals. Pretty cool.
Add persistence and replication of chemical strands, an RNA like mechanism, and it starts looking like life. Coolest of all is that this is the Navy doing part of the research.