The James Webb Telescope detected the coldest ice in the known universe – and it contains the building blocks of life

A wispy blue cloud of molecular gas glows from the light of distant stars in this James Webb Space Telescope image

Scientists using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have observed and measured the coldest ice in the deepest reaches of an interstellar molecular cloud to date. The frozen molecules measured minus 440 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 263 degrees Celsius), according to new research published Jan. 23 in the journal Nature Astronomy (opens in new tab).

Molecular clouds, made up of frozen molecules, gasses and dust particles, serve as the birthplace of stars and planets — including habitable planets, like ours. In this latest research, a team of scientists used the JWST’s infrared camera to investigate a molecular cloud called Chameleon I, about 500 light-years from Earth. 

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