Molecules in space

Steven Charnley*, Pascale Ehrenfreund, Yi Jehng Kuan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


The discovery of over 130 molecules in interstellar space, which included more than 70 extraterrestrial amino acids and other organic compounds, is discussed. The discovery of glycine may be the first link in a tentative chain that connects the chemistry in distant star-forming regions and the organic composition of meteorites. There is also evidence that complex carbonaceous macromolecules resembling coal or soot and small amounts of fullerenes can be formed in particular stellar environments. These observations suggest that interstellar molecules could have played a role in seeding primitive solar-system bodies with organic molecules, which were precursors to the larger biomolecules generated by prebiotic chemistry on earth.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Specialist publicationPhysics World
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Oct

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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