Kwok, S. Complex organics in space from Solar System to distant galaxies, 2016, The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review, 24, 8

A&A Rev., 24, 1-27 (2016)


Recent observational and experimental evidence for the presence of complex organics in space is reviewed. Remote astronomical observations have detected ∼ 200 gas-phased molecules through their rotational and vibrational transitions. Many classes of organic molecules are represented in this list, including some precursors to biological molecules. A number of unidentified spectral phenomena observed in the interstellar medium are likely to have originated from complex organics. The observations of these features in distant galaxies suggests that organic synthesis had already taken place during the early epochs of the Universe. In the Solar System, almost all biologically relevant molecules can be found in the soluble component of carbonaceous meteorites. Complex organics of mixed aromatic and aliphatic structures are present in the insoluble component of meteorites. Hydrocarbons cover much of the surface of the planetary satellite Titan and complex organics are found in comets and interplanetary dust particles. The possibility that the early Solar System, or even the early Earth, have been enriched by interstellar organics is discussed.

Astrochemistry Astrobiology Interstellar molecules

Kwok, S. Complex organics in space from Solar System to distant galaxies.