Astrochemistry: October 2017

This paper provides a brief overview of the journey of molecules through the Cosmos, from local diffuse interstellar clouds and PDRs to distant galaxies, and from cold dark clouds to hot star-forming cores, protoplanetary disks, planetesimals and exoplanets.

Vinyl cyanide (C2H3CN) is theorized to form in Titan's atmosphere via high-altitude photochemistry and is of interest regarding the astrobiology of cold planetary surfaces due to its predicted ability to form cell membrane-like structures (azotosomes) in liquid methane.

Prior to the origin of simple cellular life, the building blocks of RNA (nucleotides) had to form and polymerize in favourable environments on the early Earth.

How life began on Earth, roughly 4 billion years ago, is one of the great scientific questions. New results from scientists at McMaster University and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy suggest a key role for meteorites landing in warm little ponds, delivering essential organic molecules that kick-started the emergence of life in the shape of self-replicating RNA molecules.

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have detected the faint molecular fingerprint of methyl chloride - a chemical commonly produced by industrial and biological processes here on Earth - around an infant star system known as IRAS 16293-2422.

We report the detection of widespread CH2OHCHO and HOCH2CH2OH emission in Galactic center giant molecular cloud Sagittarius B2 using the Shanghai Tianma 65m Radio Telescope.

Ice analogs mimicking interstellar ice behave like liquids at temperatures between -210°C and -120°C according to Hokkaido University researchers. This liquid-like ice may enhance the formation of organic compounds including prebiotic molecules and the accretion of dust to form planets.

Methyl isocyanate (CH3NCO) is one of the important complex organic molecules detected on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta's Philae lander.