We have shown that the red cells found in the Red Rain (which fell on Kerala, India, in 2001) survive and grow after incubation for periods of up to two hours at 121 oC . Under these conditions daughter cells appear within the original mother cells and the number of cells in the samples increases with length of exposure to 121 oC. No such increase in cells occurs at room temperature, suggesting that the increase in daughter cells is brought about by exposure of the Red Rain cells to high temperatures. This is an independent confirmation of results reported earlier by two of the present authors, claiming that the cells can replicate under high pressure at temperatures up to 300 oC. The flourescence behaviour of the red cells is shown to be in remarkable correspondence with the extended red emission observed in the Red Rectangle planetary nebula and other galactic and extragalactic dust clouds, suggesting, though not proving, an extraterrestrial origin.From MIT's Technology Review :
In 2001, numerous people observed red rain falling over Kerala in the southern tip of India during a two month period. One of them was Godfrey Louis, a physicist at nearby Cochin University of Science and Technology. Intrigued by this phenomena, Louis collected numerous samples of red rain, determined to find out what was causing the contamination, perhaps sand or dust from some distant desert.
Under a microscope, however, he found no evidence of sand or dust. Instead, the rain water was filled with red cells that look remarkably like conventional bugs on Earth. What was strange was that Louis found no evidence of DNA in these cells which would rule out most kinds of known biological cells (red blood cells are one possibility but ought to be destroyed quickly by rain water).
Louis published his results in the peer-reviewed journal Astrophysics and Space in 2006, along with the tentative suggestion that the cells could be extraterrestrial, perhaps from a comet that had disintegrated in the upper atmosphere and then seeded clouds as the cells floated down to Earth. In fact, Louis says there were reports in the region of a sonic boom-type noise at the time, which could have been caused by the disintegration of an object in the upper atmosphere.
And from Wired Science:
Hot water discovered around a giant carbon star requires a new theory for the chemistry around stars to be explained. The new theory could significantly alter our understanding of what materials exist in interstellar space, and where water and life could exist in the universe.The coincidence of these two papers may be just that - coincidence. Then again, maybe they're no such thing.
“It makes us realize that the chemistry in all stars can be much more complex than we thought it was,” said astronomer Leen Decin of the Instituut voor Sterrenkunde in Belgium, lead author of the study published Sept. 2 in Nature. “If we don’t understand what is created from these old stars, we don’t know what the main ingredients of new stars and planets are made from.”
The star the water vapor was found around is much like our star will be in 6 billion years: nearing the end of its life, expanding outward, and with more carbon than oxygen in its atmosphere. Water vapor wasn’t expected around such a star, because it was thought that all the oxygen would be bound up in carbon monoxide, a stable molecule, and not available for making water molecules.
However, water vapor of unknown temperature was first discovered around this star in 2001. Astronomers proposed that the star had icy planets and comets that were vaporized as the star expanded outward. If this theory was right, the water vapor would be far away from the central core of the star, and cold.
With the launch of Herschel satellite in 2009, it was finally possible to test the theory because astronomers could collect information about the temperature of the water around the star. They found water vapor of all different temperatures around the star, which refutes the vaporized comet theory. Water could only get hot if it is closer to the star than where the comets and icy planets would have existed.
The new explanation for the water is that high energy ultraviolet light from nearby hot stars is penetrating the atmosphere of the carbon star and breaking apart the carbon monoxide molecules. Breaking these molecules apart would release oxygen that could react with the abundant hydrogen to form water.
Previous posts on Panspermia - which I consider a more likely theory for the origin of life than a planetary one - at these previous posts.
I'll summarise why I believe an extra-planetary origin for pre-biotic and biotic substances is most likely by quoting myself:
Basically, look at the conditions on Earth when Life-as-we-know-it is believed to have formed. Water available, Carbon available, unfiltered sunlight available, and a clay or other substrate (floor) with regularities that would encourage formation of complex compounds.We're finding more all the time. I think the case for pre-biotic molecules is very strong, that for biotic material in membranes - cells - less so. But you'll have to Watch This Space.
The take a look at the conditions in the Oort cloud, in insterstellar gas clouds, and in infalling comets. A few quick mathematical calculations will show that theres heaps, piles, zillions more places where conditions like this exist in Space than on a planet's surface. The difference between a few flecks of paint on the surface of some very small marbles, and great vats of paint the size of Jupiter.