UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Complex Organics in Space: A Changing View of the Cosmos Kwok, Sun

Abstract

Planetary explorations have revealed that complex organics are widely present in the solar system. Astronomical infrared spectroscopic observations have discovered that complex organics are synthesized in large quantities in planetary nebulae and distributed throughout the galaxy. Signatures of organics have been found in distant galaxies, as early as 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang. A number of unsolved spectral phenomena such as diffuse interstellar bands, extended red emissions, 220 nm feature, and unidentified infrared emission bands are likely to originate from organics. In this paper, we discuss the possible chemical structures of the carriers of these unexplained phenomena, and how these organics are synthesized abiotically in the universe. We raise the possibility that the primordial solar system was enriched by complex organics synthesized and ejected by evolved stars. The implications of possible stellar organics in primordial Earth are also discussed.

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CC BY 4.0