Published on 26 July 2019
In section 6. Interstellar and circumstellar matter
Re-exploring Molecular Complexity with ALMA (ReMoCA): Interstellar detection of urea
Urea plays a special role in the history of chemistry for being the first organic compound that was synthesized in the laboratory using exclusively inorganic ingredients. Over the years, a number of researchers attempted to detect spectroscopic evidence for urea in the interstellar medium, but until recently the evidence had been inconclusive. In this issue, Belloche et al. present the detection of urea toward the molecular cloud Sgr B2(N1S) using observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). A total of nine spectral lines in both vibrational ground and excited states have been detected, and the intensities of these lines are well reproduced with a local thermodynamic equilibrium model. As result of this work, urea has been added to the continuously growing list of organic molecules detected in space.