Discovery of interstellar molecules has become one of the most prominent findings of 20th century. Initially (since late 1930-ies) only simple two-atom compounds have been known. However, the rapid development of radioastronomy during post-war years has allowed expanding this list significantly. Now, the number of known interstellar and circumstellar molecules approaches two hundred (not counting isomers and isotopologues). Among them we see both simple and quite complex molecules. The largest molecules with solid identification consist of 12 atoms (CH3OC2H5, C3H7CN). Nearly all molecules with more than five atoms represent are organic. More than once even discovery of the simplest amino acid (glycine) in the interstellar medium had been reported. While later all these reports has been refuted, there is no doubt that this is a purely technical problem, and there are no fundamental obstacles on a pathway to interstellar synthesis of simplest amino acids. Definitely, even more complex organic structures are present in the interstellar medium, like fullerenes and some kind of aromatic particles. Recently, this diversity quite often became an incentive to suggest that organic species might have arrived to Earth (and other forming planets) in a "ready-to-use" form. However, one has to remember that numerous factors causing effective molecule destruction are in action in the interstellar medium, in the vicinity of young stars, and in protoplanetary disks.
Life and Universe
- Pub Date:
- May 2017
- Organic matter in the Universe