Is the reaction between formic acid and protonated aminomethanol a possible source of glycine precursors in the interstellar medium?
Computational Chemistry Group, Departamento de Química Física y Química
InorgánicaFacultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Valladolid,
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Received: 18 May 2015
Accepted: 28 May 2015
Context. One of the most interesting questions in interstellar chemistry concerns whether we can detect the basic building blocks of proteins in astronomical sources. In ascertaining whether amino acids could be possible interstellar molecules, a crucial point is how they could be synthesized in the interstellar medium.
Aims. We do a theoretical study of the ion-molecule reaction involving protonated aminomethanol and formic acid to establish its viability in space. This ion-molecule reaction has been proposed by other authors as a possible way to produce glycine in the interstellar medium.
Methods. The relevant stationary points on the potential energy surface of the reaction between protonated aminomethanol and formic acid have been theoretically studied by using ab initio methods. The second-order Moller-Plesset level was employed, in conjunction with the correlation-consistent polarized valence triple-zeta (cc-pVTZ) basis set. In addition, the electronic energies were refined by means of single-point calculations at the CCSD(T) level (coupled cluster single and double excitation model augmented with a non-iterative treatment of triple excitations) on the MP2/cc-pVTZ geometries with the aug-cc-pVTZ basis set.
Results. Formation of protonated glycine is an exothermic process; however, the process presents a net activation barrier that makes this reaction unfeasible under interstellar conditions.
Conclusions. The reaction of protonated aminomethanol with formic acid does not seem to be a plausible source of interstellar glycine. This particular case is a clear example that a detailed study of the potential energy surface is needed to establish the relevance of a process in the interstellar medium.
Key words: astrobiology / astrochemistry / molecular processes / ISM: kinematics and dynamics / ISM: molecules / ISM: general
© ESO, 2015