Deep Search For Glycine Conformers In Barnard 5

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
July 3, 2023
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Deep Search For Glycine Conformers In Barnard 5

One of the most fundamental hypotheses in astrochemistry and astrobiology states that crucial biotic molecules like glycine (NH2CH2COOH) found in meteorites and comets are inherited from early phases of star formation.

Most observational searches for glycine in the interstellar medium have focused on warm, high-mass molecular cloud sources. However, recent studies suggest that it might be appropriate to shift the observational focus to cold, low-mass sources.

We aim to detect glycine towards the so-called methanol hotspot in the Barnard 5 dark cloud. The hotspot is a cold source (Tgas≈7.5 K) with yet high abundances of complex organic molecules (COMs) and water in the gas phase. We carried out deep, pointed observations with the Onsala 20m telescope, targeting several transitions of glycine conformers I and II (Gly-I and Gly-II) in the frequency range 70.2-77.9 GHz.

No glycine lines are detected towards the targeted position, but we use a line stacking procedure to derive sensitive abundance upper limits w.r.t. H2 for Gly-I and Gly-II, i.e. ≤(2-5)×10−10 and ≤(0.7-3)×10−11, respectively. The obtained Gly-II upper limits are the most stringent for a cold source, while the Gly-I upper limits are mostly on the same order as previously measured limits. The measured abundances w.r.t. H2 of other COMs at the B5 methanol hotspot range from 2×10−10 (acetaldehyde) to 2×10−8 (methanol). Hence, based on a total glycine upper limit of (2-5)×10−10, we cannot rule out that glycine is present but undetected.

Tadeus Carl, Eva Wirström, Per Bergman, Steven Charnley, Yo-Ling Chuang, Yi-Jehng Kuan

Comments: 12 pages, 7 figures
Subjects: Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA)
Cite as: arXiv:2306.17713 [astro-ph.GA] (or arXiv:2306.17713v1 [astro-ph.GA] for this version)
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Submission history
From: Tadeus Carl
[v1] Fri, 30 Jun 2023 14:54:13 UTC (2,334 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) 🖖🏻