New: Video on the groundbreaking discovery of interstellar formaldehyde and the birth of astrochemistry

26 June 2024

In collaboration with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), we are thrilled to announce the release of a new video that delves into the history-altering discovery of interstellar formaldehyde in the 1960s. This finding was not just a scientific curiosity but also laid the foundational stones for a new scientific branch, known as ‘modern astrochemistry’.

Researchers detected formaldehyde in space

The video highlights the fascinating moment when scientists first identified formaldehyde molecules in the vast emptiness of space. This landmark detection, made by pioneering astronomers, was a key turning point, demonstrating that complex molecules could form and exist in the harsh environments of space, under extreme temperatures and pressures, in conditions vastly different from those on Earth.

“The discovery of formaldehyde and other molecules in space allow us to start asking deeper and more fundamental questions – such as, where did our molecular origins get their start?” - Dr Remijan (NRAO).

What does it mean today?

Although the finding took place in the 1960s, it remains highly relevant to this day. NRAO instrumentation continue to be used to observe formaldehyde, as it is used as a physical and chemical diagnostic to better understand the extreme regions in space.

Watch our video!

Watch the video on our YouTube channel or follow us on LinkedIn!

We would like to warmly thank the NRAO, especially Dr Anthony Remijan, Jill Malusky and Bill Saxton for their enthusiastic response to this initiative, and for making it happen!