Astrochemistry: June 2021

A group of polymers across several members of the oldest meteorite class, the CV3 type, shed light on space chemistry as early as 12.5 billion years ago

Comet 46P/Wirtanen was releasing an unusual amount of alcohol as it made its historic flyby of Earth two and a half years ago.

Nereid, Neptune's third largest satellite, lies in an irregular orbit and is the only outer satellite in the system (apart from Triton) that can be spectroscopically characterized with the current generation of Earth-based telescopes.

Amino acids are the essential keys in chemistry that contribute to the study of the formation of life. The complex organic molecule glycine (NH2CH2COOH) is the simplest amino acid that has been investigated in the interstellar medium for a long period to search for a potential connection between the Universe and the origin of life.

Globally, the Earth system has thousands of terragrams (Tg) (1 Tg = 10 12 g) of mineral nanoparticles moving around the planet each year. These mineral nanoparticles are ubiquitously distributed throughout the atmosphere, oceans, waters, soils, in and/or on most living organisms, and even within proteins such as ferritin.

Phosphorus is an essential element for life, and the phosphorous cycle is widely believed to be a key factor limiting the extent of Earth's biosphere and its impact on remotely detectable features of Earth's atmospheric chemistry.

A research group from Kobe University has demonstrated that the heat generated by the impact of a small astronomical body could enable aqueous alteration (*1) and organic solid formation to occur on the surface of an asteroid.

The discovery of amino acids in meteorites has presented two clues to the origin of their processing subsequent to their formation: a slight preference for left-handedness in some of them, and isotopic anomalies in some of their constituent atoms.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers involving astrophysicists, astrochemists and biochemists, has reported the detection of the prebiotic molecule ethanolamine in space, which could have been incorporated into the early Earth. This species forms the simplest head of phospholipids that make up the membranes of all present-day cells.

Phosphorus related species are not known to be as omnipresent in space as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur-bearing species. Astronomers spotted very few P-bearing molecules in the interstellar medium and circumstellar envelopes.