Astrochemistry: August 2018

The ALMA telescope in Chile has transformed how we see the universe, showing us otherwise invisible parts of the cosmos.

Given that the macromolecular building blocks of life were likely produced photochemically in the presence of ultraviolet (UV) light, we identify some general constraints on which stars produce sufficient UV for this photochemistry.

Molecules with an amide functional group resemble peptide bonds, the molecular bridges that connect amino acids, and may thus be relevant in processes that lead to the formation of life.

In addition to long-lived radioactive nuclei like U and Th isotopes, which have been used to measure the age of the Galaxy, also radioactive nuclei with half-lives between 0.1 and 100 million years (short-lived radionuclides, SLRs) were present in the early Solar System (ESS), as indicated by high-precision meteoritic analysis.