First Detection of the pre-biotic Molecule Glycolonitrile (HOCH2CN) in the Interstellar Medium

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
January 9, 2019
Filed under
First Detection of the pre-biotic Molecule Glycolonitrile (HOCH2CN) in the Interstellar Medium

Theories of a pre-RNA world suggest that glycolonitrile (HOCH2CN) is a key species in the process of ribonucleotide assembly, which is considered as a molecular precursor of nucleic acids.

In this Letter, we report the first detection of this pre-biotic molecule in the interstellar medium (ISM) by using ALMA data obtained at frequencies between 86.5GHz and 266.5GHz toward the Solar-type protostar IRAS16293-2422 B. A total of 15 unblended transitions of HOCH2CN were identified. Our analysis indicates the presence of a cold (Tex=24±8K) and a warm (Tex=158±38K) component meaning that this molecule is present in both the inner hot corino and the outer cold envelope of IRAS16293 B.

The relative abundance with respect to H2 is (6.5±0.6)×10−11 and ≥(6±2)×10−10 for the warm and cold components respectively. Our chemical modelling seems to underproduce the observed abundance for both the warm and cold component under various values of the cosmic-ray ionisation rate (ζ). Key gas phase routes for the formation of this molecule might be missing in our chemical network.

S. Zeng, D. Quénard, I. Jiménez-Serra, J. Martín-Pintado, V. M. Rivilla, L. Testi, R. Martín-Doménech
(Submitted on 9 Jan 2019)

Comments: 5 pages, 4 figures, 2 tables, accepted in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters
Subjects: Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:1901.02576 [astro-ph.GA] (or arXiv:1901.02576v1 [astro-ph.GA] for this version)
Submission history
From: Shaoshan Zeng
[v1] Wed, 9 Jan 2019 01:30:52 UTC (380 KB)
Astrobiology, Astrochemistry

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