Aarhus Universitets segl

InterCat seminar

Speaker: Victor M. Rivilla Title: Molecular Precursors of the RNA-world in the Interstellar Medium: The G+0.693-0.027 astrochemical mine

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Tirsdag 7. november 2023,  kl. 11:00 - 12:30


The Catalytic Space and Zoom

InterCat seminar


Speaker: Victor M. Rivilla, Center of Astrobiology (CAB), CSIC-INTA, Madrid, Spain

Title: Molecular Precursors of the RNA-world in the Interstellar Medium: The G+0.693-0.027 astrochemical mine



We still do not understand how simple molecules combined together to form large molecules essential for living organisms. Recent prebiotic experiments, based on the RNA-world hypothesis for the origin of Life, have suggested that the three basic macromolecular systems (nucleic acids, proteins and lipids) could have formed from relatively simple precursors. The detection of some of these molecules in space, thanks to the unprecedented capabilities of current astronomical facilities, has opened a new window for astrobiology from the astrochemical point of view. In this seminar I will present the most recent results of an ultradeep unbiased spectral survey towards the molecular cloud G+0.693-0.027 with the Yebes 40m, IRAM 30m and APEX telescopes. We have recently discovered 15 new interstellar species for the first time in the interstellar medium towards this molecular cloud. Among them, the first glycine isomer detected in space, glycolamide (NH2COCH2OH);  key precursors of RNA nucleotides such as hydroxylamine (NH2OH); of sugars, such as the glycolaldehyde isomer 1,2-ethenediol ((CHOH)2); of proteins, such as carbonic acid (HOCOOH), ethyl isocyanate (C2H5NCO), or propargylimine (HCCCHNH); of lipids, such as ethanolamine (NH2CH2CH2OH) and propanol (CH3CH2CH2OH); and new species with phosphorus, such as the ion PO+. I will also present several recent theoretical efforts aimed to understand how these molecules can be assembled under interstellar conditions, using quantum chemical calculations and chemical models. This amazing chemical complexity, which might be only the tip of the iceberg, means that interstellar chemistry offers an extremely rich feedstock for triggering prebiotic chemistry.