Biomolecules in the interstellar medium and in comets

S. B. Charnley*, S. D. Rodgers, Y. J. Kuan, H. C. Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


We review recent studies of organic molecule formation in dense molecular clouds and in comets. We summarise the known organic inventories of molecular clouds and recent comets, particulary Hale-Bopp. The principal chemical formation pathways involving gas phase reactions, as well as formation by catalytic reactions on grain surfaces or through dust fragmentation, are identified for both dense clouds and cometary comae. The processes leading to organic molecules with known biological function, carbon chains, deuterium fractionation, HNC and S-bearing compounds are described. Observational searches for new interstellar organics are outlined and the connection between observed interstellar organics and those detected in comets Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1419-1431
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Sept

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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