Astrochemistry: April 2021

Scientists have recreated the reaction by which carbon isotopes made their way into different organic compounds, challenging the notion that organic compounds, such as amino acids, were formed by isotopically enriched substrates.

Establishing the origin of the water D/H ratio in the Solar System is central to our understanding of the chemical trail of water during the star and planet formation process.

We report the detection of the oxygen-bearing complex organic molecules propenal (C2H3CHO), vinyl alcohol (C2H3OH), methyl formate (HCOOCH3), and dimethyl ether (CH3OCH3) toward the cyanopolyyne peak of the starless core TMC-1.

The chemical compounds carrying the thiol group (-SH) have been considered essential in recent prebiotic studies regarding the polymerization of amino acids.

Determining the level of chemical complexity within dense starless and gravitationally bound prestellar cores is crucial for constructing chemical models, which subsequently constrain the initial chemical conditions of star formation.

Isocyanic acid (HNCO) is a simple molecule with a potential to form prebiotic and complex organic species.

Recent astronomical observations of both isomers E and Z of imines such as cyanomethanimine, ethanimine and 2-propyn-1-imine, have revealed that the abundances in the ISM of these isomers differ by factors of ~3-10.

Quantifying the composition of the material in protoplanetary disks is paramount to determining the potential for exoplanetary systems to produce and support habitable environments.

The chemistry of planet-forming disks sets the exoplanet atmosphere composition and the prebiotic molecular content. Dust traps are of particular importance as pebble growth and transport are crucial for setting the chemistry where giant planets are forming.

The simultaneous detection of organic molecules of the form C2HnO, such as ketene (CH2CO), acetaldehyde (CH3CHO), and ethanol (CH3CH2OH), toward early star-forming regions offers hints of shared chemical history.

Millimeter and centimeter observations are discovering an increasing number of interstellar complex organic molecules (iCOMs) in a large variety of star forming sites, from the earliest stages of star formation to protoplanetary disks and in comets.

Hydrocarbons are observed in the gas or solid phases of solar system objects, including comets, Trans-Neptunian Objects, planets and their moons. In the presence of water ice in these environments, hydrocarbons-bearing clathrate hydrates could form.

The thermodynamic structure of protoplanetary discs is determined by the dust opacities which depend on the size of the dust grains and their chemical composition.

Looking at the night sky, one's thoughts might be drawn to astrochemistry. What molecules inhabit the vast spaces between the stars? Would we see the same molecules that surround us here on Earth? Or would some of them be more exotic--something rarely observed or even unknown?

An international group of scientists led by the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research have studied the chemical composition of 50 protoplanetary-disk forming regions in the Perseus Molecular Cloud, and found that despite being in the same cloud, the amounts of complex organic molecules they contain are quite different.

Dutch astronomer Ewine van Dishoeck (Leiden University, the Netherlands), together with an international team of colleagues, has written an overview of everything we know about water in interstellar clouds thanks to the Herschel space observatory.

Every year, our planet encounters dust from comets and asteroids. These interplanetary dust particles pass through our atmosphere and give rise to shooting stars. Some of them reach the ground in the form of micrometeorites.

We are made of stardust, the saying goes, and a pair of studies including University of Michigan research finds that may be more true than we previously thought.