Astrochemistry: August 2013

If water is the source of life, then finding the source of water certainly qualifies as a worthy astrobiological endeavor. Scientists have formulated certain scenarios for how our planet became wet and stayed wet, but other planets may not have been able to tap this same source.

Interstellar ices are layers of molecules deposited on fine dust grains in dark and dense molecular cloud cores. Subsurface ice has been considered in a few astrochemical models, which have shown that it can be of great importance.

The discovery of amino acids in meteorites and the detection of glycine in samples returned from a comet to Earth suggest that the interstellar chemistry is capable of producing such complex organic molecules.

Water is an important reservoir species for oxygen in interstellar space and plays a key role in the physics of star formation through cooling by far-infrared emission.