Interstellar Formamide (NH2CHO), A Key Prebiotic Precursor

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
September 26, 2019
Filed under ,
Interstellar Formamide (NH2CHO), A Key Prebiotic Precursor

Formamide (NH2CHO) has been identified as a potential precursor of a wide variety of organic compounds essential to life, and many biochemical studies propose it likely played a crucial role in the context of the origin of life on our planet.

The detection of formamide in comets, which are believed to have –at least partially– inherited their current chemical composition during the birth of the Solar System, raises the question whether a non-negligible amount of formamide may have been exogenously delivered onto a very young Earth about four billion years ago. A crucial part of the effort to answer this question involves searching for formamide in regions where stars and planets are forming today in our Galaxy, as this can shed light on its formation, survival, and chemical re-processing along the different evolutionary phases leading to a star and planetary system like our own.

The present review primarily addresses the chemistry of formamide in the interstellar medium, from the point of view of (i) astronomical observations, (ii) experiments, and (iii) theoretical calculations. While focusing on just one molecule, this review also more generally reflects the importance of joining efforts across multiple scientific disciplines in order to make progress in the highly interdisciplinary science of astrochemistry.

Ana López-Sepulcre, Nadia Balucani, Cecilia Ceccarelli, Claudio Codella, Francois Dulieu, Patrice Theulé
(Submitted on 25 Sep 2019)
Comments: Review, 5 figures
Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA)
DOI: 10.1021/acsearthspacechem.9b00154
Cite as: arXiv:1909.11770 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:1909.11770v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)
Submission history
From: Ana Lopez-Sepulcre
[v1] Wed, 25 Sep 2019 20:59:32 UTC (1,250 KB)
Astrochemistry, Astrobiology

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