National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Universality of circular polarization in star- and planet-forming regions: Implications for the origin of homochirality of life

| Science

The research team successfully detected high degrees of CP (22%) in the nebula including young stars. The detected CP degree is the highest among CPs reported in star-forming regions. The team also shed light on the mechanism of CP. From this, CP has become a new tool with which to obtain information about the effects of magnetic fields and circumstellar structures that can affect the process of star and cluster formation. Furthermore, both the CP detection that is not only higher but also broader than in the Orion nebula and the universality of CP in various star-forming regions imply that Orion is not the only candidate for CP as the extraterrestrial origin of homochirality on life. Putting it differently, in star- and planet-forming regions, CP may be a common feature. These findings are among the latest knowledge obtained using the unique method called ‘wide-field near-infrared imaging polarimetry observations’.

[Figure] Polarization Mechanism (Credit: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)

Research Paper Source

“Near-Infrared Circular Polarization Images of NGC 6334-V” by Kwon, J. et al. 2013, Astrophysical Journal Letter 765, L 6

Kwon, J. 2013, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, PhD thesis