Photoprocessing Of Formamide Ice: Route Towards Prebiotic Chemistry In Space

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
March 22, 2020
Filed under
Photoprocessing Of Formamide Ice: Route Towards Prebiotic Chemistry In Space

Aims. Formamide (HCONH2) is the simplest molecule containing the peptide bond first detected in the gas phase in Orion-KL and SgrB2. In recent years, it has been observed in high temperature regions such as hot corinos, where thermal desorption is responsible for the sublimation of frozen mantles into the gas phase.

The interpretation of observations can benefit from information gathered in the laboratory, where it is possible to simulate the thermal desorption process and to study formamide under simulated space conditions such as UV irradiation. Methods. Here, two laboratory analyses are reported: we studied formamide photo-stability under UV irradiation when it is adsorbed by space relevant minerals at 63 K and in the vacuum regime.

We also investigated temperature programmed desorption of pure formamide ice in the presence of TiO2 dust before and after UV irradiation. Results. Through these analyses, the effects of UV degradation and the interaction between formamide and different minerals are compared.We find that silicates, both hydrates and anhydrates, offer molecules a higher level of protection from UV degradation than mineral oxides. The desorption temperature found for pure formamide is 220 K.

The desorption temperature increases to 250 K when the formamide desorbs from the surface of TiO2 grains. Conclusions. Through the experiments outlined here, it is possible to follow the desorption of formamide and its fragments, simulate the desorption process in star forming regions and hot corinos, and constrain parameters such as the thermal desorption temperature of formamide and its fragments and the binding energies involved. Our results offer support to observational data and improve our understanding of the role of the grain surface in enriching the chemistry in space.

Maria Angela Corazzi, Davide Fedele, Giovanni Poggiali, John Robert Brucato
(Submitted on 20 Mar 2020)
Comments: In press Astronomy and Astrophysics, 13 pages, 12 figures
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:2003.09118 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2003.09118v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: John Robert Brucato Dr.
[v1] Fri, 20 Mar 2020 06:21:12 UTC (2,403 KB)
Astrobiology, Astrochemistry

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻