Recently in the Astrochemistry Category


ALMA has observed stars like the Sun at a very early stage in their formation and found traces of methyl isocyanate -- a chemical building block of life.

Emission of fullerenes in their infrared vibrational bands has been detected in space near hot stars.

Cassini discovered a plethora of neutral and ionised molecules in Titan's ionosphere including, surprisingly, anions and negatively charged molecules extending up to 13,800 u/q. In this letter we forward model the Cassini electron spectrometer response function to this unexpected ionospheric component to achieve an increased mass resolving capability for negatively charged species observed at Titan altitudes of 950-1300 km.

Hydroxylamine (NH2OH) is one of the potential precursors of complex pre-biotic species in space. Here we present a detailed experimental study of hydroxylamine formation through nitric oxide (NO) surface hydrogenation for astronomically relevant conditions.

In the icy bodies around our solar system, radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. To address this cosmic possibility, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis

Complex organic molecules (COMs) have been identified in different environments in star- forming regions. Laboratory studies show that COMs form in the solid state, on icy grains, typically following a non-energetic (atom-addition) or energetic (UV-photon absorption) trigger. So far, such studies have been largely performed for single processes.

Potentially-habitable planets orbiting M-dwarfs are of intense astrobiological interest because they are the only rocky worlds accessible to biosignature search over the next 10+ years due to a confluence of observational effects.

Water and hydroxyl, once thought to be found only in the primitive airless bodies that formed beyond roughly 2.5-3 AU, have recently been detected on the Moon and Vesta, which both have surfaces dominated by evolved, non-primitive compositions. In both these cases, the water/OH is thought to be exogenic, either brought in via impacts with comets or hydrated asteroids or created via solar wind interactions with silicates in the regolith or both.

So far, more than 130 extrasolar planets have been found in multiple stellar systems. Dynamical simulations show that the outcome of the planetary formation process can lead to different planetary architectures (i.e. location, size, mass, and water content) when the star system is single or double.

Many scientists believe the Earth was dry when it first formed, and that the building blocks for life on our planet -- carbon, nitrogen and water -- appeared only later as a result of collisions with other objects in our solar system that had those elements.