AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 18. Protostellar Disks
Oral, Monday, June 4, 2001, 10:00-11:30am, C104

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[18.06] The Production of Complex Organics from Interstellar Ices

L. J. Allamandola, S. A. Sandford, M. P. Bernstein (NASA-Ames Research Center), D. Deamer (Biochemistry Dept., UC at Santa Cruz), J. Dworkin (NASA-Ames Research Center), J. Elsila, R. N. Zare (Dept. of Chemistry, Stanford University)

Infrared spectroscopy of ices in interstellar dense molecular clouds has shown that they contain a variety of simple molecules, as well as aromatic hydrocarbons. While in these clouds, these ices are processed by ultraviolet light and cosmic rays. High vacuum, UV irradiation laboratory simulations conducted using various realistic 10 K interstellar mixed-molecular ice analogs, both with and without polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), have been carried out in NASA-Amesí Astrochemistry Laboratory. Upon warming, these irradiated ices are found to produce refractory organic residues. These residues have been analyzed using a variety of techniques, including HPLC and laser desorption mass spectrometry, and they have been shown to contain a variety of complex organic compounds. Several of these compounds may be of prebiotic significance. In particular, we will discuss the detection of quinones (substituted PAHs that are used by living systems for electron transport) and amphiphiles (molecules that self-assemble to form membranes). Laboratory simulations have also demonstrated that the organic products can show isotopic enrichments in D that provide clues for the mechanisms of their formation. Similar compounds and D enrichments are seen in the organics found in primitive meteorites, suggesting a direct link between interstellar chemistry and the delivery of organics to newly formed planets.


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