Density Functional Theory Calculations on the Interstellar Formation of Biomolecules

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
October 24, 2023
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Density Functional Theory Calculations on the Interstellar Formation of Biomolecules
Schematic for reactions in space occurring in the gas phase (top), and on the surface of grains (bottom). — NASA

The density functional theory (DFT) is the most versatile electronic structure method used in quantum chemical calculations, and is increasingly applied in astrochemical research.

This mini-review provides an overview of the applications of DFT calculations in understanding the chemistry that occurs in star-forming regions. We survey investigations into the formation of biologically-relevant compounds such as nucleobases in the interstellar medium, and also covers the formation of both achiral and chiral amino acids, as well as biologically-relevant molecules such as sugars, and nitrogen-containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Additionally, DFT calculations are used to estimate the potential barriers for chemical reactions in astronomical environments. We conclude by noting several areas that require more research, such as the formation pathways of chiral amino acids, complex sugars and other biologically-important molecules, and the role of environmental factors in the formation of interstellar biomolecules.

Qingli Liao, Junzhi Wang, Peng Xie, Enwei Liang, Zhao Wang

Subjects: Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:2310.14488 [astro-ph.GA] (or arXiv:2310.14488v1 [astro-ph.GA] for this version)
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Submission history
From: Zhao Wang
[v1] Mon, 23 Oct 2023 01:41:58 UTC (526 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) 🖖🏻