Volume 523, November-December 2010
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Atomic, molecular, and nuclear data|
|Published online||18 November 2010|
Chiral molecule formation in interstellar ice analogs: alpha-aminoethanol NH2CH(CH3)OH
Université de Provence, Laboratoire de Physique des Interactions Ioniques
et Moléculaires Centre de St-Jérôme,
Avenue Escadrille Normandie-Niemen,
Accepted: 22 August 2010
Aims. Aminoalcohol molecules such as alpha-aminoethanol NH2CH(CH3)OH may be aminoacid precursors. We attempt to characterize and detect this kind of molecules which is important to establish a possible link between interstellar molecules and life as we know it on Earth.
Methods. We use Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry to study the formation of alpha-aminoethanol NH2CH(CH3)OH in H2O:NH3: CH3CHO ice mixtures. Isotopic substitution with 15NH3 and ab-initio calculation are used to confirm the identification of alpha-aminoethanol.
Results. After investigating the thermal reaction of solid NH3 and acetaldehyde CH3CHO at low temperature, we find that this reaction leads to the formation of a chiral molecule, the alpha aminoethanol NH2CH(CH3)OH. For the first time, we report the infrared and mass spectra of this molecule. We also report on its photochemical behavior under VUV irradiation. We find that the main photo-product is acetamide (NH2COCH3). Data provided in this work indicates that alpha-aminoethanol is formed in one hour at 120 K and suggests that its formation in warm interstellar environments such as protostellar envelopes or cometary environments is likely.
Key words: astrochemistry / methods: laboratory / ISM: molecules
© ESO, 2010
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