A Non-energetic Mechanism For Glycine Formation In The Interstellar Medium

By Keith Cowing
November 12, 2020
Filed under
A Non-energetic Mechanism For Glycine Formation In The Interstellar Medium

The detection of the amino acid glycine and its amine precursor methylamine on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Rosetta mission provides strong evidence for a cosmic origin of prebiotics on Earth.

How and when such complex organic molecules form along the process of star- and planet-formation remains debated. We report the first laboratory detection of glycine formed in the solid phase through atom and radical-radical addition surface reactions under cold dense interstellar cloud conditions.

Our experiments, supported by astrochemical models, suggest that glycine forms without the need for energetic irradiation, such as UV photons and cosmic rays, in interstellar water-rich ices, where it remains preserved, in a much earlier star-formation stage than previously assumed. We also confirm that solid methylamine is an important side-reaction product. A prestellar formation of glycine on ice grains provides the basis for a complex and ubiquitous prebiotic chemistry in space enriching the chemical content of planet-forming material.

S. Ioppolo, G. Fedoseev, K.-J. Chuang, H. M. Cuppen, A. R. Clements, M. Jin, R. T. Garrod, D. Qasim, V. Kofman, E. F. van Dishoeck, H. Linnartz

Comments: 27 pages including 5 figures, 2 tables, Methods and Supplementary Information (5 figures and 4 tables)
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); Chemical Physics (physics.chem-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:2011.06145 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2011.06145v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Sergio Ioppolo
[v1] Thu, 12 Nov 2020 01:10:02 UTC (1,992 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) 🖖🏻