Low Temperature Physics: 47, 199 (2021); https://doi.org/10.1063/10.0003519
Fizika Nizkikh Temperatur: Volume 47, Number 3 (March 2021), p. 219-226    ( to contents , go back )

Did life originate from low-temperature areas of the Universe?

Serge A. Krasnokutski

Laboratory Astrophysics Group of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy at the University of Jena Jena 07743, Germany
E-mail: sergiy.krasnokutskiy@uni-jena.de.
pos Анотація:1620

Received September 28, 2020, published online January 26, 2021


The biological molecules delivered to Earth on the board of meteorites and comets were called one of the possible causes of the origin of life. Therefore, our understanding of the routes of formation of biomolecules in space should shed a light on the possibility of the existence of habitable extrasolar planets. The large abundance of organic molecules is found in the space regions with the lowest temperature. Different routes of the organics formation in these areas were suggested. In this article, we demonstrate that complex organic molecules (COMs) as well as important biological molecules can be formed due to the reaction of C atoms with the mantels of molecular ices covering refractory dust grains present in the interstellar medium (ISM). Having four valence electrons, C atoms act as glue joining simple non-organic molecules and converting them into organic matter. The formation of many molecules is barrierless and thus can happen at low temperature. The barrierless reaction C + NH3 + CO → NH2CHCO attracts particular interest. The product of this reaction is an isomer of the glycine residue of a polypeptide and expected to be efficiently formed in the translucent molecular clouds. The polymerization of these molecules leads to the formation of proteins that according to some theories are life’s first molecules. Considering a high abundance of atomic carbon in the ISM, we expect a high efficiency of the formation of a large variety of different organic molecules, and show why the amount of organic material formed by condensation of atomic carbon can be underestimated.

Key words: origin of life, low-temperature chemistry, complex organic molecules (COMs), interstellar medium (ISM), interstellar dust.

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